Tag Archives: Army Air Corps

Bye bye Battlefield Lynx

The Westland Battlefield Lynx Mk7 is no more. The British Army Air Corps said goodbye to the type on 31 July 2015, with a flypast of six Mk7 performing the so-called backflip that is typical for the type.

The Lynx has served the UK for 38 years, being part of major military operations and supporting humanitarian missions. In 2018 the newer Lynx Mk9 is to retire, with all Lynx’s to be replaced by its successor: the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat, dubbed AH1 in Army Air Corps service.

Six Lynx AH7 helicopters form a '7' in the sky. (image © Chris Globe)
Six Lynx Mk7 helicopters form a ‘7’ in the sky. (image © Chris Globe)

The Wildcat is a further development of the Lynx, desinged not only for the ground support role, but for utility and maritime tasks as well. The Republic of Korea Navy has ordered eight of the ASW version, while the United Kingdom ordered 34 Wildcats for the Army Air Corps and 28 for the Fleet Air Arm.

The Wildcat AH1 is able to accommodate 7 passengers, including a door gunner, plus a crew of 2. It has a maximum speed of 157 knots (181 mph / 291 km/h) and a range of 420 nautical miles (777 km). When equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks it can remain airborne for 4.5 hours. Its standard armament includes forward firing machine guns and rockets, a pintle-mounted machine gun in the door plus up to 20 Thales Martlet missiles. The naval HMA2 version can carry up to 4 MBDA Sea Venom anti-surface weapon as well as torpedoes and depth charges.

The AW159 Wildcat in Army Air Corps configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)
The AW159 Wildcat in Army Air Corps configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)

Since August 2014 Wildcat AH1s fly already with 652 Squadron of the Army Air Corps. The Royal Navy’s Wildcat HMA2 went on its first operational cruise onboard Type 23 frigate F229 HMS Lancaster in March 2015, with the Fleet Air Arm flying the HMA2 version with 825 Naval Air Squadron and the AH1 attack version in support of the Royal Marines with 847 NAS.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the UK Ministry of Defence
Featured image: Westland Lynx AH7 during a display at the Red Bull Air Race London 2007 (Image (CC) Tony Hisgett)

Wildcat on first operational cruise

The Royal Navy’s newest anti-surface, troop insertion, (C)SAR, recon, ship protection and utility helicopter, the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat, has gone on its first operational cruise. On board Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster, the Wildcat and crew will patrol the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for the coming nine months.

The final operational landing of a Norwegian Lynx (Image © Mats Grimsæth / Forsvarets Mediesenter)
Final bye-bye to Norwegian Lynx
The chopper – officially called 201 Flight of 825 Naval Air Squadron – started operations after the frigate left Portsmouth navy harbour on 21 March 2015.

The AW159 is a further development of the legendary Westland Lynx helicopter. Equipped with new avionics, new missions and COMNAV systems and the possibility to operate newer weapons, the Wildcat has one huge advantage over other maritime helicopters like the NHIndustries NH90: it is smaller and therefore more easy to fit in. Two turboshaft engines with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) provide the chopper of power.

Operated by a pilot and co-pilot/Tactical Coordinator (TACCO) the Wildcat is big enough to accommodate 6 additional persons in crash resistant seating, or 9 passengers in non-crash resistant configuration. While staying airborne for up to 3 hours or fly 300 nautical miles (500 km) before refuelling is needed, the Wildcat can reach speeds of 150 knots (172 mph or 277 km/h) with the ordinary cruise speed being 143 knots (164 mph or 264 km/h). Its operational ceiling is at 15,000 feet. Out at sea the crew should be able to hover all the way up to 4,800 feet.

Eyes and ears
The Wildcat has armoured crew seats and an armoured floor. For its versatile missions it is equipped with a rescue hoist, a cargo hook, a rappelling / fast roping kit, a four bag emergency flotation system and it has a waterproof floor installation. An infrared engine exhaust suppression system is meant to reduce the risk of being detected. Electro-optical sensors, a 360 degree AESA surveillance radar (underneath the nose) and an anti-submarine active dipping sonar give the Wildcat eyes and ears. The chopper can be armed with a forward firing cannon, plus 7.62 or 12.7 mm pintle mounted machine guns, as well as air-to-surface missiles / rockets, torpedoes and depth charges.

Special Forces
The Royal Navy is expected to receive a total of 30 Wildcats, while 30 in battlefield support configuration are destined for the Army Air Corps. Another eight machines have been designated to serve as Light Assault Helicopters with the UK’s Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing. Eight Wildcats have been ordered by the Republic of Korea Navy.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The AW159 Wildcat in Royal Navy configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)

The AW159 Wildcat in Army Air Corps configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)
The AW159 Wildcat in Army Air Corps configuration (Image © AgustaWestland)