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

The company's new Combined Arms Gateway Environment (CAGE) enables users to conduct mission planning on a laptop computer, with pilots able to plot routes around known or suspected threats such as surface-to-air missile sites using a topographic map of the operating area.

An embedded gateway function enables the Apache to receive and distribute tactical information using outside datalinks such as Link 11 or Link 16 formats, providing ground or airborne commanders with a common operating picture during missions.

Already in service in support of the British Army's Boeing/ Westland Apache AH1 attack helicopters and available for the UK Royal Air Force's AgustaWestland Merlin HC3 transports, CAGE will be ready for export 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 system also has potential applications for planning use with fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned air vehicles, says Aerosystems.

Trials conducted for the UK have demonstrated the CAGE system's ability to manage operations of multiple squadrons of attack helicopters, and to cut planning cycle times from several hours using an outdated paper system to minutes.


Source: Flight International