Staff Writer (Updated: 5/2/2015):
Lynx began as the Westland WG.13 (Westland numbered each of their designs in this consecutive format meaning that it had already completed some 12 other designs previous to WG.13), intended to replace the aging "Scout" and gangly "Wasp" platforms, both past Westland products themselves. This system was also intended to challenge the role currently held by the American Huey UH-1 Cobra helicopter in the attack role. Initially, the helicopter endeavor included Aerospatiale of France (to make up some 30% of the Lynx production), with France looking to purchase both army and navy versions of the Lynx while Britain was to take deliveries of Aerospatiale products in turn (Gazelle and Puma). The 1967 coproduction agreement led to nowhere as the French bowed out so Westland proceeded on the Lynx design on their own, achieving first flight on March 21st, 1971. A total of 6 prototypes were eventually built (along with 7 preproduction models) while production of the Lynx line was handled at Westland in Yeovil, Somerset, England.
Despite its origins as a naval attack platform, the Lynx was quick to showcase its performance capabilities and roomy cabin, offering more potential for the system than originally envisioned for armed service. The aircraft was quite capable of performing loops and could roll and handle much like a traditional fixed-wing aircraft thanks to its main rotor design - making it quite responsive. In 1972, the Lynx set a new helicopter speed record by achieving 321.74 km/h and would later best this number by hitting 400.87 km/h on August 11th, 1986, the latter thanks to new rotor blades (complete with swept tips) via the British Experimental Rotor Program (or BERP). This particular Lynx was the 102nd production AH.Mk 1 model but modified with twin auxiliary tail fins and water-methanol boosted engines. The converted AH.Mk 1 model was later reconfigured back to its army status with standard equipment eventually retired to the UK Helicopter Museum.
The Lynx has appeared in both land-based and naval variants, both stemming from the two original army and navy designs. Land-based variants included the initial British Army AH.Mk 1 - which took on a variety of tasks during service - and the AH.Mk 7, an improved version of the AH.Mk 5 for the Army Air Corps and Fleet Air Arm featuring an IR suppressor over the exhaust, the BERP main rotor arrangement and Sky Guardian radar warning receiver (RWR). 100 of the original AH.Mk 1's were ordered. The AH.Mk 9 (or "Battlefield Lynx") became the British Army version of the "Super Lynx" and featured a retractable wheel undercarriage.
Naval variants began with the HAS.Mk 2 (HAS = Helicopter, Anti-Submarine) and could be fielded as an anti-ship or anti-submarine warfare role. The HAS.Mk 2 achieved first flight in February of 1976. The HAS.3 was an improved version and featured sub-variants. The HMA.Mk 8 "Super Lynx" (HMA = Helicopter, Maritime Attack) was an upgraded attack model for maritime usage while other HMA.Mk 8 sub-variants appeared with improved technologies.