The French Navy is to retire its remaining Westland Lynx Mk 4(FN) helicopters in 2020, two years earlier than previously scheduled.
A total of eight Lynx Mk 4(FN) helicopters remain on the strength of Flotille 34F at Lanvéoc-Poulmic. Of these, all but one have undergone a limited upgrade programme to introduce improved connectivity and allow unrestricted operation in all airspace.
The Lynx Mk 4(FN) had been planned to retire in 2022, but with support costs rising the decision has now been made to bring forward the type's out of service date by two years as a savings measure. No firm date has been announced as yet, but Jane's has been told that the type will be withdrawn in mid-2020 at which time Flottille 34F will be temporarily disbanded.
Early retirement of the Lynx will leave a capability gap as the type, equipped with the DUAV-4 active dipping sonar, constitutes the primary anti-submarine rotorcraft on board the French Navy's last two F70-class frigates, La Motte-Picquet (D645) and Latouche-Tréville (D646). These ships, both based in Brest, are unable to accommodate the larger and heavier NH Industries NH90 Caïman.
Under current plans, La Motte-Picquet is due to decommission in 2020 with Latouche-Tréville scheduled to follow two years later. The decision to bring forward the Lynx out-of-service date means that Latouche-Tréville will have to operate with another helicopter type from mid-2020 - most probably the AS565 Panther - but this stopgap will not be equipped with a dipping sonar.
It is currently anticipated that Flottille 34F will be recommissioned in short order to parent a fleet of civilian-owned but military-registered Dauphin N3/N3+ helicopters that will be leased to replace the Alouette III.
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