The Lynx helicopter had a vital role to play in the Falklands War. Whereas the ‘heavy’ work of the war was done by the Sea Kings, the Lynx provided the Royal Navy and accompanying requisitioned ships with protection from submarines and surface vessels.
The Lynx first flew in March 1971 and it went operational in the Army and Royal Navy in 1977. The early versions of the Lynx broke numerous speed records and in 1986, a modified version reached a speed fractionally under 250 mph – a world record speed for a helicopter.
The primary function of the Lynx in the Falklands War was in an anti-submarine role. The Argentine Navy did not have a large number of useable submarines. Three were serviceable but the Santé Fe was lost at South Georgia and the other two were equally as old as the Santé Fe and all but remained in harbour for the duration of the war. However, their simple existence made the Task Force commanders understandably wary and it was the task of the Lynx’s in the Task Force to ensure that they could be detected and destroyed.
The Lynx HMA.2 was the Royal Navy’s anti-submarine Lynx during the war. It was also primed to deal with any surface shipping that approached the Task Force such as the ‘Alférez Sobral’ on May 3rd. Armed with Sea Skua missiles, a Lynx was a potent foe to any smaller enemy shipping that came near to the Task Force. The Falklands War was the first time the Lynx had been used in combat and it proved its worth.
During the war, three Lynx helicopters were lost. However, these were not due to malfunctions. The loss of the three Lynx helicopters was the result of when three ships were lost – the ‘Ardent’, the ‘Atlantic Conveyor’ and the ‘Coventry’.
The Lynx has a crew of two or three – a pilot, observer and aircrew man. The Royal Navy version can carry two torpedoes or four Sea Skua missiles or two depth charges. A new modernised version is due in the future.