AgustaWestland will upgrade the British Army's remaining Lynx AH9 utility helicopters to the improved AH9A configuration, following Ministry of Defence (MoD) approval to extend the upgrade to 22 aircraft.
British Army Aviation School training regiment commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel David Meyer said there had been a recent endorsement for all 22 AH9s to be upgraded, and for the out-of-service date to be extended to 2016.
AgustaWestland said the AH9A follow-on contract was likely to be signed this month, according to flightglobal.com.
Equipped with more powerful Honeywell / Rolls-Royce engines, hybrid analogue / digital cockpits and secure communications equipment, the upgraded model will be capable of operating in high temperatures expected when the fleet is deployed to Afghanistan.
Before operating the AH9A, the Lynx pilots will undergo a 5h conversion course along with seven weeks of specific training on the type.
The army intends to overhaul its current training system to better prepare aircrew to operate its Westland / Boeing Apache AH1 attack helicopters and next-generation Lynx Wildcats, according to Meyer.
Upon completion of basic fixed-wing training, British Army pilots will undergo initial rotorcraft training using the UK Defence Helicopter Flying School's single-engined Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel HT2s.