One of the UK's major successes of the past year has been the performance of its upgraded AgustaWestland Lynx AH9A utility helicopters in Afghanistan.

"Hot and high" environmental conditions in the country had meant the Lynx was not operationally effective during the summer months. However, a modernisation programme has equipped the Army Air Corps' former 22 Lynx AH9s with more powerful LHTEC T800 engines and new avionics, and transformed the type into a valuable, year-round asset. Since April 2010, enhanced AH9As have been able to perform all three mission tasks required in Afghanistan - lift, find and strike.

British Army Lynx Helicopter in Afghanistan
 © Crown Copyright/Cpl Barry Lloyd

The aircraft can carry between two and four passengers, depending on the time of year, and be equipped with an L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared sensor and a 12.7mm door gun. But the imminent use of the smaller and lighter-weight MX-10 payload will enable the type to instead carry an M3M 0.50cal machine gun. This will enable the Lynx to perform more strike duties and free-up capacity on the army's deployed Westland/Boeing Apache AH1 attack helicopters.

Other uses for the Lynx AH9A in the past 16 months have included its employment as an airborne command and control post, and as an armed escort for Afghan air force Mil Mi-17 transport helicopters flying resupply missions.

Source: Flight International