Leonardo’s Lynx helicopter turned 50 this month. The aircraft made its first flight on March 21, 1971, from the Westland plant in Yeovil, UK, and featured technologies new at the time including blades from the British Experimental Rotor Program (BERP). A modified Lynx broke the world rotorcraft speed record on August 11, 1986, clocking a forward speed of 216 knots.
More than 500 Lynx series helicopters were subsequently produced and it remains in service in nine countries performing a variety of missions, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, battlefield, search and rescue, coastal protection, and light utility.
The current version of the aircraft, the AW159, is used in shipboard deployment by the British Royal Navy and has been updated with a fully integrated avionics and mission suite coupled with a tactical processor and military-derived human-machine interface. It is still flown for a variety of multi-role surface and sub-surface operations. For the UK Army, the Lynx flies reconnaissance and strike coordination roles. Other militaries currently using the Lynx include Brazil, Malaysia, Portugal, and South Africa.