Lynx Mk9A on OP HERRICK, Afghanistan

 

The Lynx helicopter just keeps getting better and better!

Designed to operate on the open plains of Northern Europe, it was not surprising to see that the old Lynx aircraft struggled to cope with the demands of flying in temperatures exceeding 50˚C and at density altitudes approaching 10,000 feet. Armed only with a 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun, it was equipped solely for self defence, and therefore the range of tasks available to it was restrictive.

The limitations of the Lynx Mk7 were recognised and a contract was established with Westlands to upgrade all Lynx Mk9 aircraft to become Lynx Mk9A. The Lynx Mk9A provides a significant increase in performance when compared to the Lynx Mk7 or Mk9. The T800 engines mean a sizeable increase in lift capacity and full operating capability throughout the summer months in Afghanistan. Couple this with a new weapon system (12.7mm machine gun) and enhanced avionics, and you have an exceptionally capable aircraft.

The Lynx Mk9A made its first debut in Afghanistan with 672 Squadron 9 Regiment AAC in April 2010 as part of Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan).

Roles included escorting larger support helicopters (such as Chinook, Merlin and Sea King). With the new weapon system the Lynx was able to clear the surrounds of patrol bases and provide overwatch to SH as they used landing sites. 659 Squadron aircraft were involved in several contacts when undertaking this role.

As a command and control vehicle, it was utilised to coordinate missions involving several aircraft types and troops on the ground, and to coordinate the insertion of Afghan National Army/Police personnel to establish vehicle check points.

It also worked alongside the Apache. Mk9a has taken on a lot of the escort work previously carried out by Apaches, thereby freeing up AH flying hours.

In limited capacities, the aircraft was used to provide casualty evacuation for coalition forces. 659 Squadron personnel escorted Afghan Army helicopters that were used to deliver and collect ballot papers in last year’s election. Fitting .50 machine guns to the MK9A added further potency.

The Lynx Mk9A has undoubtedly made a significant contribution to operations in Afghanistan. Having now completed its operational cycle with 9 Regiment AAC, the Lynx Mk9A has been handed over to 847 Naval Air Squadron to continue to build security in Southern Afghanistan. Army and Navy aircrew could not ask for a more capable Lynx.

Written By: Capt A Cramphorn, 659 Sqn, 9 Regt AAC

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