Air International 2007-09
T.Ripley - Army Wings in the 21st century /Military/
Two versions of the Lynx are in service with the Army Air Corps. The wheeled variant pictured here is the AH.9 which serves with four squadrons. The type is assigned the role of light utility, which involves moving personnel and equipment, as well as undertaking some observation work.
This Lynx AH.7 is one of six deployed in Afghanistan on the observation and utility roles. The type also currently serves in Iraq.
After the success of operating civil-owned, military-registered Bell 212s, a similar arrangement is being instigated to replace the Gazelles. This Bell 212 from 7 Flight is pictured in a jungle clearing in Belize.
Army Air Corps Gazelle AH.1s are assigned to surveillance and liaison duties. This example, pictured at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland, features an electro-optical ball sensor: on the port side is a Nitesun searchlight. The need for such systems to befitted to Army helicopters in Northern Ireland has diminished following the peace settlement.
Like the SAS personnel they support, the four AgustaWestland A.109s of 8 Flight like to keep a low profile and so wear liveries unlikely to attract attention to their military role.
Three Defender AL.1s are currently in service, having been purchased to meet an urgent operational requirement in December 2003. They have been used in Iraq for what is believed to be convoy protection work, helping to detect improvised explosive devices using the nose-mounted forward-looking infra-red sensor.
Student pilots receive their first rotary-wing training at the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury, with 660 Squadron flying the Eurocopter Squirrel HT.1. Following graduation, they proceed to the School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop.
Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are keeping the Army Air Corps busy in its golden jubilee year. Apache AH.1s are proving extremely effective in Afghanistan, where they support ground forces in combating the Taliban.
AgustaWestland has secured a contract to supply 40, plus five options, of the Future Lynx to replace the AH.7 and AH.9 variants currently in service. Although this is less than half the current inventory of this type of helicopter, its higher utilisation rate is expected to compensate for fewer airframes.