The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract to AgustaWestland for the upgrade of ten more army Lynx mk9 helicopters with LHTEC CTS800-4N engines.

Under the £42m ($62.6m) contract, the company will upgrade the top deck structure of the aircraft with new engine bays and cowls to accommodate the CTS800-4N engines.

The Lynx upgrade to mk9A standard will deliver strengthened airframes, increased firepower using the heavier-calibre 0.5in gun, and more advanced instruments and electronics, improving the helicopters’ performance in the extreme conditions of Afghanistan.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Quentin Davies said the improved version of the Lynx would greatly benefit troops in Afghanistan when it deploys there for the first time next month.

“The enhancements will allow it to perform in the extremes of climate and geography that characterise that theatre of operations,” he said.

The contact brings the total number of Lynx upgraded to mk9A standard to 22, following an initial £50m ($74.5m) contract to upgrade 12 Lynx helicopters.

The first upgraded Lynx mk9A helicopters will deploy to Afghanistan in April, while the additional ten Lynx mk9A aircraft will be delivered between early 2011 and early 2012.

The helicopters will accommodate a crew of up to five and will undergo missions including convoy overwatch, support helicopter escort, reconnaissance and surveillance, and transport of personnel.

The new CTS800-4N engines produce 37% more power, allowing the aircraft to operate more effectively in extreme hot and high conditions, when compared with the current Gem engines that are fitted to the Lynx AH mk9.