The world’s fastest helicopter has served Britain well for the past four decades and is finally going into retirement. The British Army plans to formally retire the last five Westland Lynx helicopters on January 31st. These helicopters used to be the backbone of the British Army and the Royal Navy. However, technological advancements have forced Britain to upgrade and they are opting for the more advanced Wildcat.
The Lynx came into service in 1978 as a multi-purpose military helicopter. It always showed huge potential from the beginning as it was the first aerobic helicopter that could execute loops and rolls. It was originally intended as a battlefield utility helicopter but gained its reputation as an anti-armour tank buster as well as search and rescue, reconnaissance and anti-submarine platform.
Over 450 such helicopters were built and they came in different variants like the Navy version came with foldable rotors and a deck restraint system so it could operate from destroyers and frigates. These helicopters have seen action all across the globe and have been part of every major British military operation of the past four decades.
However, its biggest achievement came in 1986 when a modified Lynx with advance experimental rotors got the title of the world’s fastest helicopter on August 11. Trevor Egginton flew at a record speed of 400.87 km/h. That mark still stands as the official Fédération Aéronautique Internationale record. However, there have been some helicopters that have unofficially hit higher speeds in the recent years.
The Augusta Westland Wildcat has more advanced avionics, a heavier payload rating and has the ability to operate at higher altitudes. The new helicopter is based on the lynx but only 5% of the components are interchangeable. The helicopter might now be a museum piece in Britain but it is still being used by other armed forces around the world, including Brazil, Oman, South Africa, and Thailand.