Soldiers from the UK Army's Air Corps reservists have conducted the first test flight of the new AW159 Wildcat Lynx helicopter during their annual training exercise to experience operational procedures.
The helicopter is expected to enter service in 2014, with the helicopter flight test offering reservists an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the aircraft's refuelling and resupply capabilities.
Lieutenant colonel Nigel Banks, 6 Regiment Army Air Corps (Volunteers), it was an important experience as the future British Army will depend on more reservists for support during combat operations.
"I believe for a reserve unit to be the first army unit to have this training opportunity reflects the importance of army reserves, who will need to increase their numbers to meet the demands of the Army 2020 structure to reshape the service," Banks said.
A total of 62 helicopters, including 34 army Wildcats and 28 maritime attack variants, were ordered by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) from AgustaWestland in December 2008 to conduct reconnaissance missions worldwide.
An upgraded variant of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter, the AW159 Lynx Wildcat is designed to provide support during battlefield utility, search and rescue, as well as anti-surface warfare missions in all weather conditions.
Powered by two LHTEC CTS800 turboshaft engines, the 6t helicopter features a robust airframe, fully integrated avionics, a glass cockpit, a new composite tailboom, tailplane, tail rotor, nose structure and avionics suite.
Established in 2006, the 6 Regiment Army Air Corps (Volunteers) is responsible for delivering ground crew for the Apache and Lynx helicopters as support to other UK Army Air Corps regiments, both during exercise and operations.
Image: The AW159 Wildcat Lynx helicopter is designed to support the Army's reconnaissance operations. Photo: © 2010 AgustaWestland - a Finmeccanica Company.