September 13, 2011 Tony Osborne, SHEPARD GROUP
London - A mapping system developed in months for use in Afghanistan has also been used to great effect over Libya.
The Digimap software - developed by Lincolnshire-based Inzpire under an urgent operational requirement for Apache and Tornado crews operating over Afghanistan is now being used on Apaches flying from HMS Ocean and Tornadoes flying from Italy on Operation Ellamy.
The app is installed on GECO (Graphical Electronic Cockpit Organiser), a tablet computer that weighs the same as a bag of sugar and is touch sensitive allowing it to be used with some ease in cramped cockpits.
Alan Whittle, head of Rotary Training Division at Inzpire, told Shephard that as well as providing mapping, the system was also being used to review up to date high-definition reconnaissance footage. In one mission, a crew using the system examined imagery of a tank that had been hit on a previous sortie, but had been moved to a different location. By looking at the footage they could see that the vehicle was the same vehicle rather than another tank that could threaten civilians, and didn't require engaging.
The company has now delivered 60 systems to the UK Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps and it has been in use in Afghanistan for half a year with both services. Now that the Typhoon is involved on air-to-ground missions on Op Ellamy, the Typhoon community is also looking at introducing the system.
Whittle said there had also been interest from the RAF's C-17 community in the GECO who want to use the system as an electronic flight bag.
'The C-17 crews want to have a paperless flight deck, and a system that is truly interactive,' said Whittle.
'Most flight bag documents are read in a PDF format, but with our system crews would be able to refer to a wide range information such as NOTAMS or diversion airfields.'
Further interest has come from the German Luftwaffe who are looking at the system for its own Tornado fleet.
Training on the GECO and Digimap takes just a day, and Inzpire make the point that the system is not only NVG compatible but can also be used even when wearing aircrew gloves.