The Lynx is arguably the most capable and versatile helicopter in its class. Launched as part of the Anglo-French helicopter agreement of 1967, the Lynx design is wholly of Westland origin, but production of the type is shared in the ratio of 70:30 between GKN Westland in the UK and Eurocopter France.
All versions of the Lynx have advanced digital flight controls plus all-weather avionics. The four-bladed semi-rigid main rotor confers a level of agility matched by no other helicopter of its generation. The first Lynx prototype flew in 1971 and production has been predominantly for use by UK armed forces. The type entered service in 1977 as the Lynx AH.Mk 1 battlefield helicopter for the British Army and Royal Marines. Some 103 examples were upgraded to the Lynx AH.Mk 7 standard and these remain the Army Air Corps primary anti-armor type, equipping 11 operational squadrons.
The upgraded Lynx AH.Mk 9 includes a nosewheel undercarriage and advanced British experimental rotor programme main rotor blades. Procurement comprises eight converted AH.Mk 7s and 16 new-builds.
The other major operator is the Royal Navy; the Lynx is its primary ship based helicopter and fulfils anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, search and rescue, over the horizon targeting for nuclear attack submarines and communications duties.
From 1994 the Royal Navy began to receive the latest version, the Lynx HMA.Mk 8. A total of 38 previous versions is being upgraded to this standard. The equivalent export version is known as the Super Lynx and orders for new-build helicopters have come from Portugal, Brazil, South Korea. The latter two customers, plus Denmark, have also had previous Lynx versions upgraded to Super Lynx standard. Operators of earlier naval Lynx variants comprise France, Germany, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway and Pakistan. The Marineflieger has overhauled the airframes and rotor systems of 17 of its older Lynx Mk 88s for service beyond 2010, and is also adding forward-looking infra-red and GPS.