UK Royal Navy AgustaWestland Lynx HMA8 shipborne helicopters have begun operating with a defensive aids subsystem (DAS) developed to meet an urgent operational requirement to counter the threat posed by manportable air defence systems. An initial eight aircraft from 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) have been modified and three ships’ flights deployed to the front line.

The requirement for a Lynx defensive aids fit was raised early last year, following analysis of Operation Telic in Iraq.

Procured by the UK Defence Logistics Organisation’s Lynx integrated project team, the DAS integrates an Alliant Techsystems AAR-47 electro-optical missile warning system, BAE Systems ALQ-144A infrared jammer and BAE M147 flare dispensers. The modifications were undertaken by the Fleetlands-based Mobile Aircraft Support Unit. Qinetiq conducted release to service trials from its Boscombe Down facility in Wiltshire, with these followed by tactical trials staged in Pembrokeshire last March.

The navy’s first DAS-equipped Lynx deployed aboard the Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll the same month and arrived in the Gulf during April. Lynx HMA8 flights aboard HMS Portland and HMS Cumberland have also since deployed and a further two aircraft have been attached to ships’ flights. The remaining three modified aircraft are retained by 815 NAS at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

The RN plans to modify a second batch of HMA8s to increase its total number of DAS-protected Lynx helicopters to more than 20. This follow-on order is expected to introduce upgraded missile approach warners.

Source: Flight International