Afghanistan — World’s Fastest Helicopter Boosts Battle Against Insurgents

The lat­est ver­sion of the world’s fastest heli­copter is bring­ing a vital boost to the UK’s bat­tle­field heli­copter capa­bil­i­ty in the arid deserts of Afghanistan.

The new Lynx Mk 9A
The new Lynx Mk 9A.
Pho­to cour­tesy Hel­mand Blog-Afghanistan
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The mul­ti-role Lynx Mark 9A has giv­en the Army Air Corps a mas­sive­ly enhanced capa­bil­i­ty accord­ing to the crews that fly it. It’s a light and agile heli­copter for the rapid deploy­ment and extrac­tion of small num­bers of troops and it’s capa­ble of lift­ing sur­pris­ing­ly heavy loads for its size. The Lynx is flown in Afghanistan by 672 Squadron of the Army Air Corps.

Deputy Squadron Com­man­der, Cap­tain Pete Marfleet from Kent said, “It’s fan­tas­tic to have the new Lynx MK9A with its upgrad­ed engines as it means we can be here through­out the sum­mer, sup­por­ing the troops on the ground through the tough­est time of the year. The increased air­craft per­for­mance means we can con­cen­trate on bring­ing the fight to the insur­gents.”

The aircraft’s val­ue in the bat­tle against insur­gents lies in its ver­sa­tile per­for­mance. The Lynx crews can track insur­gent move­ments and watch over vul­ner­a­ble areas with its sophis­ti­cat­ed sur­veil­lance cam­era. This “over­watch” capa­bil­i­ty helps in the pro­tec­tion of the mas­sive con­voys used to re-sup­ply front line troops in the for­ward oper­at­ing bases.

The con­voys can be vul­ner­a­ble to attack as they track across vast swathes of desert from base to base but with the Lynx and its for­mi­da­ble weapons sys­tems cir­cling above, the insur­gents stay away. “I’d be con­cerned if we had lots of con­tacts every time we flew a mis­sion”, said Pete Marfleet. “Suc­cess for us means we’ve got a con­voy or a sup­port heli­copter in and out of a patrol base with­out any trou­ble. Just our pres­ence in the over­head and the threat from our weapons sys­tems means that the ene­my wise­ly keep their heads down.”

In com­bat oper­a­tions the air­craft pro­vides both an offen­sive and a “Com­mand and Con­trol” capa­bil­i­ty by oper­at­ing over­head and direct­ing the bat­tle or pro­vid­ing the force com­man­der with a “birds eye” view of what’s hap­pen­ing on the ground.

This ver­sion of the Lynx has been specif­i­cal­ly engi­neered to meet the chal­lenges of oper­at­ing in places like Afghanistan. Pre­vi­ous ver­sions strug­gled with tem­per­a­tures high­er than the mid-thir­ties Centi­grade. The sear­ing heat of the Afghan sum­mers reg­u­lar­ly sees tem­per­a­tures soar over 45o C which meant that the air­craft could only fly at night and even then their lift capac­i­ty was lim­it­ed.

672 Squadron’s Qual­i­fied Heli­copter Instruc­tor Dan­ny Rae, a vet­er­an War­rant Offi­cer with 30 years expe­ri­ence said, “This is a mas­sive­ly capa­ble air­craft. The envi­ron­ment in Afghanistan is chal­leng­ing to say the least but it copes extreme­ly well. The man­u­fac­tur­ers have done a fan­tas­tic job. Its capa­bil­i­ty means that we can take the fight to the ene­my if required.”

Press release
Com­piled from Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force Joint Com­mand News Releas­es