Friends of The Helicopter Museum

Westland Lynx 3 prototype, ZE477

Westland Lynx 3 prototype, ZE477, c/n 319/001P, flying at Middle Wallop on 7th July 1984
Thanks to Alex Christie and for permission to use this copyright photo.
In the early 1980s Westland attempted to address the issues of poor payload and inadequate space, in the existing Lynx variants, with the Lynx 3, designed to meet the needs of the French and German armies for a versatile assault helicopter. They knew that recent experience in the Falklands conflict and in Northern Ireland had confirmed the sturdiness of the Lynx airframe but had raised doubts about the suitability of lighter helicopters such as the Gazelle, which had shown vulnerability to ground fire.

The private venture single prototype Lynx 3, ZE477, built by Westland at Yeovil in Somerset, married a stretched and thickened Lynx AH.1 fuselage to a crashworthy, wheeled, undercarriage and more powerful 1,260shp Rolls-Royce Gem 60-3/1 turboshaft engines. A low-set tail unit, with endplate fins from the Westland WG.30, was fitted and a 35% increase in fuel capacity was provided. Heavyweight cabin-side hardpoints, similar to those on naval Lynx variants, were fitted giving a capability to carry 8 or 16 Rockwell anti-armour Hellfire laser homing missiles as an alternative to the TOW and HOT systems. Armour-plated Martin-Baker seats were fitted in the cockpit while provision was made for mounting Stinger self-defence missile launchers and an Oerlikon 20mm cannon.

The Lynx 3 was formally announced on 21 June 1982 with the prototype making its maiden flight in June 1984. It flew a trials and display programme of about 100 hours, through 1984 and 1985, but no orders were received. In 1987 Arospatiale and MBB, destined to become the Eurocopter Group, having launched the 'Tiger' programme, were chosen as the preferred supplier of anti-tank helicopters for the French and German forces. A naval version of the Lynx 3 was proposed, with a mock-up being built and displayed, but it never reached the prototype stage. The Lynx 3 project was abandoned, by Westland, in 1987 and ZE477, having flown for the last time on 10th March 1987, was transferred to The Helicopter Museum, at Weston-super-Mare, in June 1989.

The Helicopter Museum's Westland Lynx 3, ZE4477, c/n 310/001P at RNAS Yeovilton in July 2011, after refurbishment.