USAF Orders Two More E-11A Battlefield Communications Aircraft
The US Air Force has contracted Northrop Grumman to outfit two more E-11A Bombardier business jets with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) system.
The service already operates three such aircraft, facilitating “secure” data collection for a range of missions, including “airdrops, close air support operations, humanitarian assistance, and personnel recovery,” Northrop explained in a statement.
Communication Gateway for Disparate Platforms
Based on the Global 6000 airframe, the BACN aircraft acts as a gateway between disparate platforms unable to communicate because of voice and data link incompatibility. The platform translates and relays imagery, voice, and tactical data.
The aircraft is often used to establish communication between ground forces and air platforms, overcoming terrain barriers.
“Our battle-tested family of gateway systems improves mission effectiveness and provides the secure and connective tissue between systems and sensors for joint warfighters across space, air, land, and sea domains,” Northrop Grumman’s Kevin Berkowitz remarked.
Fleet of Nine Aircraft in Six Years
The work will be performed under a $3.6 billion indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract awarded to Northrop in 2021 to develop, test, integrate and sustain the system.
The award comes more than a month after Bombardier delivered the first of six Global 6000 aircraft ordered by the airforce under a $465 million contract.
The Fiscal year 2021 budget calls for one E-11A every year for six years, for a total of nine aircraft, according to Air and Space Forces Magazine.