Westland has proposed a new version of the latest generation Super Lynx to meet UK MoD requirements for a replacement for its existing Lynxes.

The Royal Navy and Army Air Corps' ageing first-generation Lynx helicopters will need replacing from 2010, though the most recent examples could be kept in service until 2018 if upgraded.

The 130 or so surviving Army Lynx AH7s and 9s were originally to have been upgraded and converted to a common standard under the Lynx Light Utility Helicopter (LLUH) programme, until it was judged that extending the life of the existing Lynx was uneconomical, and the Battlefield Light Utility Helicopter (BLUH) requirement, calling for a new-build airframe, was drawn up.

Following an unsolicited bid from AgustaWestland, the decision was made at ministerial level to seek to procure the Future Lynx to meet the BLUH requirement as a non-competitive procurement.

The Royal Navy then issued the Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft (SCMR) requirement to replace about 76 RN Lynx Mk3s and Mk8s in the small ship maritime attack, littoral attack and ISTAR roles. It was intended from the start that SCMR would be a derivative of BLUH, thereby providing valuable commonality and producing a potential saving in non-recurring costs.

The Future Lynx offered by AgustaWestland is the most advanced version of the Lynx so far, using the same LHTEC T800 engine as the Super Lynx 300s now being delivered to Malaysia, Oman, South Africa and Thailand, coupled with a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and advanced avionics. The T800 produces 30% more power than the current Lynxes' Gem engine, while burning 1-2% less fuel, and with much lower costs of ownership.

The Future Lynx adds some new airframe improvements, giving growth capability for what may eventually be a 6t helicopter. These include a new, low-slung tailplane with endplate fins, and an all-new faceted tailboom.

The Future Lynx proposed for BLUH and SCMR has the advantage of being a 're-airframing' programme, under which some of the most expensive parts (including the flying controls, hydraulic systems, transmission system and rotor) from the existing Lynxes will be refurbished and re-used, coupled with a 21st century mission system, new T800 engines and newly built airframes.

Westland has already 're-airframed' Lynxes for Germany and Denmark, producing what are, to all intents and purposes, new aircraft at significantly lower cost.

The Future Lynx versions proposed for BLUH and SCMR enjoy a high degree of commonality, though the naval version has an undernose search radar and fuselage-mounted weapons pylons for an as-yet-undecided anti-ship missile, and the Army version could incorporate engine exhaust IR suppressors.

Source: Flight Daily News