British Army accepts last upgraded Lynx AH9A

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AgustaWestland handed over its 22nd, and last, upgraded Lynx AH9A utility helicopter to the British Army on 15 December, with the type continuing to impress during deployed operations in Afghanistan.

The modernisation programme - performed under two urgent operational requirement contracts signed in 2008 and 2010 and worth a combined £92 million ($143 million) ­- has equipped legacy Lynx AH9s with more powerful LHTEC CTS800-4N engines, capable of sustaining aircraft operations year-round in Afghanistan. Upgraded AH9As have been operating in the country since last year, conducting tasks including fire support, troop transport and casualty evacuation.

The final aircraft was handed over to the Army Air Corps during a 15 December ceremony at AgustaWestland's Yeovil site in Somerset, the UK.

"Many doubted this major upgrade programme could be done in the timescale initially laid down, but we will have achieved this [final delivery] milestone three months ahead of schedule," said AgustaWestland chairman Graham Cole.

Meanwhile, the company is also making steady progress with its new-generation Lynx Wildcat, which will enter operational use with the Army Air Corps and UK Royal Navy from January 2014. One of the company's prototype aircraft in early November entered a four-week series of trial landings on the deck of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel the Argus. The services will eventually receive a total of 62 production Lynx Wildcat AH1s and HMA1s.