Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Lynx helicopter provides fire power from the skies of Afghanistan

Lance Corporal (LCpl) ‘Gaz’ Lovett (23) is an Aviation Crewman on the new Lynx Mk9A helicopter, serving with 672 Squadron, Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan). Working as a ‘door gunner’, Lovett provides fire power from the skies to support troops on the ground or when the Lynx is escorting other aircraft.

“A typical day in Afghanistan, we all come down to the flight line, rig the cab up with the weapons system, make sure everything is okay on the aircraft, that everything is serviceable and good to….We’ll have a brief of what everyone is doing for the day, what aircraft is doing what. Come down as a crew, get sorted out, and get the kit on the aircraft and go flying,” said LCpl Lovett.

Lance Corporal Lovett looking through the sights of a Heavy Machine Gun (HMG).

With increased firepower, more powerful engines and the ability to operate in hotter temperatures, the new Lynx Mk9A has increased the options available to commanders in Afghanistan since its arrival in May 2010. It is fitted with a more advanced communication system, improved surveillance equipment and the M3M Machine Gun - a 0.50” calibre weapon, capable of firing over 850 rounds a minute.

“When we’re in the air, my responsibility is to look out for any other aircraft that could cause a danger to our aircraft. I’m also looking for insurgent activity in relation to other aircraft going in and out of the PBs (patrol bases),” said Lovett.

To ensure firing is accurate when engaging potential threats, LCpl Lovett regularly practices firing from the helicopter on the ranges near Camp Bastion. He says, “We get a lot chances to use the ranges out here…. It’s a full 360 degree range, which gives you more time on target and more time to fire the weapon system.”

LCpl Lovett has always wanted to be a door gunner. On joining the Army Air Corps he became an Air Trooper and gained his class one proficiency qualification. After completion of the 20 week Aviation Crewman course he took up his current post. “When I was at school I always wanted to be involved in aviation, whether that is flying or being on the ground. I joined the Army Air Corps to be a door gunner and this is what I’m doing now,” said Lovett.

He continues “A long day out here can be very demanding with all your kit on, but it’s nothing compared to what the guys on the ground have got. And it gives you an awesome sense of achievement picking them up out of the PBs and bringinPhog them back.”

Photos: Corporal Barry Lloyd RLC

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