The Westland Lynx is a British multi-purpose military helicopter designed and built by Westland Helicopters at its factory in Yeovil. Originally intended as a utility craft for both civil and naval usage, military interest led to the development of both battlefield and naval variants, which went into operational usage in 1977. Later adopted by the armed forces of over a dozen nations, where it primarily serves in the battlefield utility, anti-armour, search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare roles. In 1986 a modified Lynx broke the airspeed record for helicopters, which still stands today.
The Lynx has been used extensively within the Army Air Corps (AAC) for a wide variety of roles and tasks. It is predominantly a battlefield utility helicopter although it has been used for both anti-tank and reconnaissance operations.
The addition of door gunners has allowed Lynx to operate in the very close air support role in Iraq. Two versions are in service with the AAC -namely AH7 (skids) and the AH9 (wheeled undercarriage). The Lynx still holds the helicopter world speed record, and thanks to its semi-rigid titanium rotor head it is also superbly manoeuvrable. This makes it the centrepiece of Army Aviation display flying.
In the attack configuration, the Lynx AH7 is armed with 8 FITOW (further Improved TOW) wire-guided missiles on 2x4-tube racks on hardpoints attached to the fuselage. The FITOW is a wire-guided anti-tank missile with a dual warhead and a top-down attack capability. The Raytheon TOW sight can also be used for reconnaissance operations.
Lynx AH9 ("Battlefield Lynx") is a Utility version for AAC, based on AH7, but with wheeled undercarriage and further upgraded gearbox. Sixteen new-built plus eight converted from AH7s.
In December 2008 the MoD announced that the AAC will get a replacement for its current Lynx helicopter. The replacement will be supplied by AgustaWestland; the AW159 Lynx Wildcat. The Lynx Wildcat programme will deliver a fleet of 62 new light helicopters for the Army and Royal Navy from 2014 and 2015 respectively.