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£3.2m contract will deliver mission planning system for wildcat helicopters

A 3D Visualisation of CAGE
A £3.2m contract has been awarded by the UK’s Ministry of Defence to BAE Systems to equip the AW159 Wildcat helicopter fleet with a bespoke mission planning system.

The system will be used by Royal Navy and Army Air Corps pilots who fly the Wildcat.

Combined Arms Gateway Environment (CAGE) is a unique system developed by BAE Systems that can be used on multiple platforms to plan, brief, rehearse, execute and debrief a mission using the latest situational awareness and planning support information.

This allows aircrew to be more reactive and make informed decisions in the air.

The Wildcat helicopter is the second UK aircraft to use CAGE which is in use with the Navy on the Merlin II and it is planned to be developed on Wildcat as well as the other aircraft in the UK helicopter fleet.

CAGE is scheduled to be in frontline service on Wildcat for the middle of February 2015 having passed a series of reviews with the Ministry of Defence and the helicopter’s manufacturer, AgustaWestland.

Dave Rawlinson, of BAE Systems Military Air and Information, said: “CAGE allows pilots to do lot of detailed planning in advance which would otherwise have to be done in the air.

“On take-off pilots know that they are flying with a plan which is not only achievable but tactically astute.

“The plan is loaded to the aircraft’s tactical computer with navigation systems providing route information and annotating moving map displays with the operational situation.

“What really sets this project apart is the speed at which we were able to tailor and deliver so much capability in such a short time.

“CAGE showcases the skills our engineering and programme teams, the software architecture they have created and the team approach we have with our customers.”

The BAE Systems team has been working closely with pilots from Joint Helicopter Command, Navy Command the Lynx Project Team and AgustaWestland to develop the CAGE system to meet operational demands.

The program passed Critical Design Review in October 2014, and formal acceptance testing in December 2014.

The latest contract for CAGE program builds on previous contracts awarded by Boeing which uses CAGE on its Apache helicopter and Lockheed Martin on the Merlin II.

The team also delivers the Centralised Aviation Data Service secure deconfliction service which uses web-based tools to allow aircrew to share information about hazards and flight paths.