Pima Air & Space Museum Acquires Combat Veteran Westland Lynx

The Pima Air & Space Museum has just acquired a combat veteran Westland Lynx for its collection. (photo via PASM)
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The Pima Air & Space Museum in Pima, Arizona has just taken delivery of combat veteran Westland Lynx HAS.8 XZ722. The museum has added several ex-British military aircraft to its collection over the past year or so, with this former Royal Navy helicopter being just the latest. This particular airframe has quite a history. She rolled off the production lines at Westland’s factory in Yeovil, Somerset during the spring of 1980, making her first flight on June 23rd. The Royal Navy took delivery of the Lynx on July 8th that year. 815 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm was her first operational unit, and they assigned XZ722 to serve aboard the Leander Class frigate HMS Andromeda in December, 1980. XZ722 sailed for the South Atlantic on April 5th, 1982 aboard Andromeda to take part in Operation Corporate, the effort to retake the Falklands Islands after the Argentine invasion on April 2nd. Andromeda reached the total exclusion zone in May and took part in guarding the fleet. The Lynx was equipped to take on submarines and surface vessels. Interestingly though, the helicopter was also fitted with an Exocet anti-ship missile jammer, which her pilot at that time, Larry Jeram-Croft, put into action on one fateful day in late May, 1982. Click HERE to read his riveting account of that day’s activities while he was flying XZ722…

HMS Andromeda (with Lynx XZ722 aboard her stern) alongside the troopship SS Canberra off Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands shortly after the surrender of Argentine forces on June 22nd, 1982. Note how the rough environment in the South Atlantic has taken such a heavy toll on SS Canberra. She was a civilian cruise liner impressed into service (much like Cunard’s QEII) to take British troops down to retake the Falklands. (photo by Ken Griffiths via Wikipedia)

XZ722 stayed with Andromeda through roughly March, 1984. She received an upgrade to HMA.8 configuration as a maritime attack variant in 1998, and joined the Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll, while still on the books with 815 NAS. During 2000, Argyll was heavily involved in Operation Barras, the British intervention into the civil war in Sierra Leone. Argyll’s Lynx, though not confirmed as XZ722, was instrumental in that action and also helped the lives of 58 people in a missing ferry boat. XZ722 remained attached to Argyll until about November, 2002, joining another Type 23 frigate, HMS Richmond, in January, 2003 which was deployed to the Persian Gulf during the opening days of the second Iraq War, staying on post until August that year. 702 NAS took over ownership of XZ722 during 2005. The squadron, stationed at the Fleet Air Arm’s main base RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, was responsible for training and supplying aircrew for the Lynx fleet and disbanded in 2014. XZ722 was a part of the Fleet Air Arm’s helicopter display team, The Black Cats during her time with 702 NAS.

The Pima Air & Space Museum’s Westland Lynx XZ722 (foreground) during an air display at the Southport Air Show on July 23rd, 2011 while performing with the Fleet Air Arm’s Black Cats display team. (photo via Wikipedia)

The Pima Air & Space Museum currently has XZ722 in the main restoration hangar, and are set to reassemble and tidy up this significant exhibit for display in the coming months.


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