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.
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.”
Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases