We think for the Army it is a criminal waste of scarce funding and one that will deliver very poor value for money.
The current Lynx is simply not good enough to operate in the heat and altitude Afghanistan as so much of our current equipment is. This poor capability in harsh environments seems to be across the capability spectrum and is a subject we will look at in the future, we are often told the reason military equipment is so expensive is because it has to operate in all environments, all environments obviously doesn’t mean quite all environments.
Agusta Westland were contracted to up engine a number of Lynx Mk9 helicopters so they could cope with conditions in Afghanistan. The numbers of the final contracted order seems a little unclear. In written answers and statements in January 2008 the Parliamentary under Secretary for Defence, Quentin Davies, stated
The first of the 12 upgraded Lynx Mark 9 helicopters will also be available by the end of 2009
The cost announced was £70 million which would work out at just under £6 million each, or £3 million per engine if one discounts the gearbox modifications, structural work and training involved.
Of course we don’t know the terms of the deal and what it includes so those figures would be subject to clarification.
Announcing the first flight of the upgraded helicopters (now known as Lynx AH Mk.9A) the Agusta Westland press release states that the original 12 will be joined by an additional 8, later in 2010. The original announcement was for 12 and later changed to 22 for £140 million, a slight inflation in unit price. The final number of engines to be delivered to Augusta Westland by Rolls Royce is uncertain but will of course be more than the number of airframes converted.
Is it 20 or 22, who knows?
The AH Mk.9A uses equipment and engines (Honeywell/R-R LHTEC CTS800-4Ns) from the Lynx Wildcat programme.