Over half a century of British Army flying operations in Germany came to an end earlier this month when the last three Westland Lynx AH.7 helicopters left Princess Royal Barracks in Gutersloh.
The ending of flight operations by 1 Regiment Army Air Corps (AAC) in Germany on 4 October is a major milestone in the service's transition to the AgustaWestland Lynx Wildcat.
Army plans call for 1 Regiment to relocate to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton ahead of its eventual merger with the AAC's other light utility helicopter unit, 9 Regiment. As the most senior unit, 1 Regiment will remain in existence and take command of 9 Regiment's three frontline squadrons, as they move South from Dishforth in North Yorkshire.
1 Regiment is expected to begin converting its first squadron to the Lynx Wildcat next year, following in the footsteps of 847 Naval Air Squadron, which was the first UK helicopter unit to begin undergoing conversion to the new helicopter.
The AAC and Fleet Air Arm Lynx Wildcat squadrons are to share the same pool of airframes once all the helicopters on order are delivered.
It is planned that eventually the AAC will form four frontline Lynx Wildcat squadrons and a fifth squadron will act as an operational conversion unit for all Army and Royal Navy personnel training to operate the battlefield reconnaissance variants of the helicopter. The then Equipment and Support Minister, Peter Luff, told the UK parliament in December 2011 that the number of battlefield reconnaissance variants to be procured was to be dropped from 34 to 30.
Although its last aircraft have left Germany, 1 Regiment continues to support UK forces in Afghanistan with its 652 Squadron deployed in the country until the end of this year. The Regiment's other squadron returned from Afghanistan last month.
"There is no final date for the merger [of 1 and 9 Regiments] but it will be post-October 2015," a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman told IHS Jane's . "There are five flying squadrons currently between 1 Regiment AAC and 9 Regiment AAC, all five will remain. Four squadrons will be the front line Wildcat squadrons, one (652 Squadron) will become the Wildcat Operational Conversion Squadron".