New Mission Planning System goes live at RAF Cranwell
A multi-million-pound joint investment by Ascent Flight Training and Lockheed Martin is helping to increase safety and efficiency for the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) and to provide continuing support for the next generation of aviators.
The GECO system, delivered by Inzpire, is set to replace the current Mission Planning Systems (MPS) used on fixed wing platforms – including Prefect and Phenom – and rotary wing platforms, covering the Juno and Jupiter helicopters, including integration with UKMFTS simulators. In total, more than 100 systems will be rolled out.
GECO is already up and running on the Texan aircraft used in UKMFTS Basic Flying Training, and user experience has been very positive. The latest upgrade will see the system being rolled out to Prefect and Phenom aircraft at RAF Cranwell and RAF Barkston Heath.
It aligns with the GECO MPS applications already in use on some of the RAF’s front-line aircraft types, and will offer advantages for the trainees going forward, as they will already be familiar with the use of the system.
GECO will help sustain a more effective, supportable and user/operator-friendly capability, further maximise efficiencies, and provide more capability to enhance planning and operating awareness. Scalable features can also be added as trainees progress through the training system.
Tim James, Ascent Managing Director said: “We are proud of the collaboration between Ascent, Lockheed Martin and Inzpire to field GECO as our new Ascent Mission Planning System.
“The industry team has worked with our military customers to ensure this investment meets their needs, supporting both instructors and trainees within our UKMFTS programmes, where we operate 110 aircraft and over 100 simulators across our six operations sites.
“GECO will enhance our planning, briefing and debriefing capabilities, with the potential to expand our live/virtual training capabilities.”
Emlyn Taylor, UK Group Managing Director at Lockheed Martin said: “We’re evolving and embedding new tools to provide military personnel with the most effective training while increasing efficiency. Working across industry, we prioritise mission readiness at every stage in the training cycle.”
Brendan Nolan, Inzpire Managing Director, said: “I am delighted that Inzpire is working so closely with Ascent and Lockheed Martin to bring our cutting-edge mission systems technology to the MFTS programme. The MFTS fleet joins a prestigious list of front-line aircraft around the world that are already supported by GECO.”
What is GECO?
GECO has been in service with the UK armed forces since 2009 and is currently in use on over 22 different fixed wing aircraft and helicopter types, which are used across a wide range of training and operational roles.
Its mission and performance planning capabilities enable crews to quickly, accurately and safely undertake critical calculations, and with automated features check the safety and accuracy of the plan and alert the user to potential issues.
The UKMFTS delivery also includes Inzpire’s NOTAM service, providing automated, safety assured NOTAMs direct to the GECO MPS.
The phased implementation of the GECO system is minimising impact when transitioning from the old systems to the new. The initial upgrade was made to existing Texans at RAF Valley.
“GECO’s mission planning system brings all critical mission information into one comprehensive and easy-to-use digital environment, simplifying the planning process for single or multi-aircraft Phenom training events. It is user-friendly and offers significant time-saving over previous planning tools,” says Flt Lt Wise, 45 Sqn QFI.
“The mission rehearsal capability provides a comprehensive and versatile 2D or 3D run-through of the simulated mission, enhancing safety through familiarity with the route. The routes are easily transferred to CADS and the aircraft, and afterwards the mission debrief facility can be viewed using both 2D and 3D maps and imagery to create a fully interactive analysis tool.”
Following the Spring rollout of the GECO MPS to the Prefect and Phenom at RAF Cranwell and RAF Barkston Heath, the latest generation of the GECO Airborne Tablet System will be delivered alongside the MPS to the rotary wing element of UKMFTS at RAF Shawbury in mid-2023.
GECO will remain under continuous development, providing innovative training capability to UKMFTS in the future as needed.