2017 will see the end of this remarkable aircraft’s career with the Royal Navy as it completes its last deployment with the only remaining operator, the Fleet Air Arm’s 815NAS, currently finishing up its final deployment with the type. A single example of the Lynx HMA.8 is aboard the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland as it carries out a nine-month cruise which includes supporting Operation Kipion.
According to the Royal Navy’s website, the Royal Navy element of Operation Kipion is outlined as follows;
Our maritime presence is a demonstration of our continued commitment to enduring peace and stability, comprising: a command element, the United Kingdom Component Command (UKMCC), responsible for the wider region, across the Gulf and Indian Ocean, exercising command and control of the RN and RFA ships and cooperating within a 30-nation maritime force.
As well as the last Lynx HMA.8 flight on board, HMS Portland also carries a Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. En-route to the Kipion operations area, HMS Portland and the Lynx were able to conduct anti-submarine training against a French nuclear submarine.
Earlier this year, HMS Portland sailed to the South Atlantic to the British island of South Georgia, a fitting visit for the Lynx given how pivotal the early model Lynx helicopters were in recovering the island and the Falklands from Argentine occupation in 1982. The vessel is now making its way north and yesterday undertook a Replenishment At Sea (RAS) operation with RFA Gold Rover off the west coast of Africa. Like the Lynx, the RFA Gold Rover is set to be withdrawn from service in the coming weeks having spent 43 years fuelling the fleet’s warships.
Barring some unforeseen requirements, HMS Portland and its Lynx are scheduled to return to the UK on March 10th whereby the helicopter and its crew will disembark for the last time. The Lynx is being replace by the newer Wildcat which although built off the previous airframe is almost a wholly new beast.