A ceremony was held today at AgustaWestland's Yeovil facility to mark the completion of the Lynx Mk9A programme and the scheduled delivery of the 22nd and final Lynx AH Mk9A helicopter to the British Army Air Corps in December 2011. The twenty-two aircraft programme was the result of Urgent Operational Requirement contracts placed in November 2008 and March 2010 and will be completed three months ahead of schedule. The ceremony was hosted by Graham Cole, Chairman, AgustaWestland Ltd, with the guest of honour being Brig James Illingworth, Deputy Commander of the Joint Helicopter Command & Director of Army Aviation.
Graham Cole, Chairman, AgustaWestland Ltd, said at the ceremony "The Mk9A programme has been a major success story for both AgustaWestland and the MoD. Many doubted this major upgrade programme could be done in the timescale initially laid down, but I am very pleased to say not only will we complete the delivery of the final aircraft in December but we will have achieved this milestone three months ahead of schedule."
MOD Defence Equipment & Support's Director, Helicopters, Adrian Baguley said: "The delivery to time and cost of this urgent operational requirement to enhance the Lynx Mk9 fleet has given Theatre Commanders a much more capable and versatile light helicopter. This was a truly outstanding example of joint working between the DE&S Lynx project team and AgustaWestland."
In December 2008 AgustaWestland was awarded a pound50 million Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) contract to upgrade twelve Lynx AH Mk.9 aircraft. The CTS800-4N engines, which transform the performance of the Lynx AH Mk.9, were pulled forward from the AW159 Lynx Wildcat programme along with other equipment. The new engines produce 37% more power than the Gem engines fitted to the original Lynx AH Mk.9 giving the Mk.9A a significant increase in power allowing it to operate in extreme hot and high conditions at high weights. The Lynx AH Mk.9A upgrade required modifications to be carried out to the main gear box, top deck structure and rear fuselage to accommodate the CTS800-4N engines. Additionally changes were carried out in the cockpit for the new engine controls and digital displays.
Under this Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) contract AgustaWestland commenced work even before contract award to ensure the programme could be completed as rapidly as possible. A written-off airframe supplied by the Ministry of Defence was used to trial the installation and changes required to the top deck structure of the aircraft, as a risk reduction exercise. Similarly AgustaWestland's Super Lynx 300 demonstrator aircraft has been used to perform a range of trials in support of the programme to speed up the qualification process prior to entry into service.
The first flight of the Lynx AH Mk.9A took place just 10 months after contract award on 16th September 2009 at AgustaWestland's Yeovil facility. Other activity in late 2009 included the provision of a comprehensive support package including an initial spares package, integrated electronic technical publications and training. The training package included training for aircraft and avionic technicians as well as aircrew and was completed by the end of November 2009.
In December 2010, just 12 months after contract award AgustaWestland delivered the first four upgraded Lynx AH Mk.9A helicopters to the British Army. Three of these four aircraft were used by the Army Air Corps for conversion to type and conversion to role training at its Dishforth base in Yorkshire and in early-2011 for pre-deployment training in Kenya.
In March 2010 AgustaWestland was awarded a pound42 million contract extension by the UK Ministry of Defence for the upgrade of 10 more British Army Lynx Mk.9 helicopters. This contract meant all of the British Army's 22 Lynx Mk.9 helicopters were to be upgraded to Mk.9A standard in a seamless conversion programme.
Following the completion of pre-deployment training the first batch of Lynx AH Mk.9As were deployed to Afghanistan in April 2010 where they immediately went to work. The ability to operate all year round at high altitude with greatly enhanced payload made the "nine alpha" an extremely valuable asset in theatre for British and coalition forces.
In September 2010 deliveries of the first batch of 12 aircraft was completed three months ahead of schedule and in December 2011 the 22nd aircraft will also be delivered 3-months early.
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