BAE Systems have announced that their ‘revolutionary’ new mission planning software will be rolled out to the Royal Air Force by November 2020.

The software, named Sceptre, will be used throughout a mission, from the initial plan, to the execution of it, to the debrief. BAE say it’ll allow users on the ground to “make better, more informed decisions” to support the flight crew.

The system was originally used for Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, and has now been adapted for use with fast jets. Whilst the RAF will initially use it primarily to support Typhoon, it has been designed to be platform agnostic.

Briefing media on the announcement yesterday, Louise Aiken – Head of Mission Planning Programmes – said:

“Sceptre will deliver the RAF a very real and tangible information advantage over its adversaries. In today’s world, a pilot does not have time to decipher multiple pages of information and this is where Sceptre gives them information in a clear way to allow them to focus on the mission.”

It was developed and funded internally by BAE Systems. The value of the contract with the Ministry of Defence has not been released.

Analysis on the BAE Systems media day from Henry Jones

358 Hanger sits unassumingly on the southern side of Warton Aerodrome. Inside are six Typhoon jets. I was only allowed to photograph one of them. The rest had various panels removed – these jets are used by BAE to test new technologies and components.

IPA6 for example, the jet that I could photograph, was the primary testbed for Project Centurion, BAE’s plan to ensure Typhoon could takeover from Tornado. I was told that it had been a “seamless transition”.

IPA6, photo taken by Henry Jones.

I got the impression that Typhoon will never be a ‘final product’. BAE constantly work as a ‘whole force’ with the RAF, getting feedback on new systems and providing a vast amount of support.

Part of this support is in training, run by Archie Neill. In response to what he described as an “asymmetric changing environment”, the RAF is moving towards a 50:50 Live:Synthetic training balance. While less time training in the air may be cheaper, cost isn’t the main driver for this shift

There is increasing concern over adversaries watching the techniques and tactics that pilots employ while training in the air. He even identified the Falkland Islands as somewhere with plenty of free airspace, but can nonetheless be watched from a satellite. Switching to an increasingly synthetic training programme minimises the risk of revealing techniques to other states.

As part of their involvement in the Tempest programme, BAE are also looking at how pilots may interact with an aircraft in the future.

They describe their Striker II helmet concept as the “world’s most advanced helmet-mounted display”. Whilst I have very little to compare it too, it is nonetheless very impressive. Suzy Broadbent, one of the engineers working on the helmet, said it would “become the primary display surface” in an aircraft. While in flight, the pilot can select an interface or display and drag and drop it to some dead space in their field of vision. 

I was struck during the visit by how passionate the BAE Systems staff were about each of their areas and projects. They’re doing some remarkable and incredibly impressive work.

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BV Buster
BV Buster (@guest_472376)
4 years ago

So the RAF gets this and I get a slightly crumpled none fablon 1:500,000,000,000,000 map with a coffee stain? But the worst case scenario is they loose all aircraft and 12 bods? I fell let down!


James Whittaker
James Whittaker (@guest_472380)
4 years ago
Robert blay
Robert blay (@guest_472406)
4 years ago

Thanks for sharing the link ?

bob carlisle
bob carlisle (@guest_472390)
4 years ago

Great bit of kit, glad there spending money somewhere.
Please sign and share this petition, all sectors of MOD need more no st but for an island nation that once had the greatest RN in the world we have been publicly shamed by not have enough ships to protect or shipping. In 10 years more ships are being retired than we have on order, orders will secure docks and building capacity. If we don’t act soon in 10 years we will be an even bigger joke.

Robert blay
Robert blay (@guest_472434)
4 years ago
Reply to  bob carlisle

We are anything but a joke Bob. We have the most respect Armed Forces in the world, the best trained, and some very fine kit in service, and much more coming. Yes, we need abit more, so does every other nation. But the last thing we need is people sat in the safety of their home, saying our forces are a joke. If you want to be pro-active. Join up.

bob carlisle
bob carlisle (@guest_472439)
4 years ago
Reply to  Robert blay

Hi Robert, by joke I mean what consecutive government’s have done to our ability to ensure safety of our international interests. We have 1 aircraft carrier – with no planes (cleared for embarking) 30% plus of destroyers and frigates needing repair and numbers of vessels at an all time low. Don’t for one minute think I doubt the ability of what personnel and assets we do have, we just don’t have enough. If I was young enough to serve I would, my biggest regret was not joining once I had my offer to join esp as 3 generations before me… Read more »

Lee1 (@guest_472474)
4 years ago
Reply to  bob carlisle

Firstly even the Americans would struggle to protect all the shipping in the gulf… There are simply too many ships sailing too close to Iran. Iran has its entire surface fleet and personnel at its disposal. Secondly we have no operational Aircraft carrier as it has not completed tests yet. But that was a calculated gamble that seems to have paid off. If needed both the Carrier and its aircraft could operate in theatre. To get more ships we need to spend more money. To spend more money we need to increase tax or decrease spending somewhere else. When there… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon (@guest_472403)
4 years ago

Forces Network contributes a couple of interesting videos.

Rob Collinson
Rob Collinson (@guest_472440)
4 years ago

Very 21st Century!!

A. Smith
A. Smith (@guest_472442)
4 years ago

All I see is Google Earth on six screens. I’m hoping this is just a mock up.

Julian (@guest_472478)
4 years ago
Reply to  A. Smith

It’s difficult to know from the article and illustrations what this Sceptre system is actually doing. There might be some quite complicated processing going on there in terms of radar visibility calculations based on intel on enemy radar locations and Typhoon radar cross-sections, attack envelopes of know SAM defences, fuel efficiency for the potential candidate flight paths in and out of enemy territory, etc. If it is doing stuff like that then it’s an extremely impressive and valuable asset even if, once it gets to the display of its results, it doesn’t look much more impressive than Google maps displaying… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_472463)
4 years ago

Curious to know who the chap on the left of the CGI representation is supposed to be? Bert from the local garage?

Otherwise, good to know. How much of this amazing technology will Whitehall give away to the world free of charge do we think?

Herodotus (@guest_472490)
4 years ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

No, it’s Nigel Garage… his opinion on bugger-all. Other than insulting comments about the ‘Royal Family’!