UK datalink specialist Aerosystems International has scooped a major deal with Boeing to promote a mission planning system for export operators of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

The Combined Arms Gateway Environment (CAGE) enables users to conduct mission planning from a laptop computer, with pilots able to plot routes around known or suspected threats, such as surface-to-air missile sites, by using a topographic map of the operating area. The system can also provide ground or airborne commanders with a common operating picture during missions, by using a gateway function which enables the Apache to receive and distribute tactical information using outside datalinks, such as the Link 11/16 formats.

Already in service in support of the British Army's Boeing/Westland Apache AH1 attack helicopters and available with the UK Royal Air Force's AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin HC3 transports, CAGE will be ready for export to existing and future Apache operators from 2005.

"There are issues with exporting US [mission] planners, so we are offering an independent solution", says Aerosystems business development manager Gareth Owen. The company hopes to support around 200 Apaches on the export market, with each operator to be able to load its own threat library into the system. The design also has potential applications for use with other helicopters, plus fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned air vehicles, Aerosystems says.

Source: Flight Daily News