New E-11A Communications Aircraft Handed Over to US Air Force
The US Air Force has received a new E-11A aircraft with a battlefield airborne communications node (BACN) payload at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia.
The plane will be integrated into the air force’s 430th Expeditionary Electronic Communications Squadron, the “Black Wolves,” which supports combat communications.
The BACN’s “WiFi in the sky” capability allows the E-11A to function similarly to a low-Earth satellite, maintaining aerial command and control capabilities for airborne and ground units.
“This new E-11A will relieve the pressure on the rest of our fleet and enable us to sustain a high mission capable rate,” Black Wolves Commander Lt. Col. Todd Arthur stated.
“Having an additional aircraft will give our maintenance team another option to reliably put combat airpower into the skies.”
Paving Way for New Squadron
Since its inception in 2008, the Black Wolves has flown thousands of hours as “an essential component to modern war fighting.”
The squadron’s high mission success rates in the Middle East enabled the US Air Force and US Congress to develop an additional E-11A BACN team at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
“Just like America is a melting pot of other nationalities, the 430th is truly a melting pot of the Air Force. We have fighter pilots, bomber pilots, transport pilots, tanker pilots, special operations pilots, trainer pilots, test pilots, a program manager and three enlisted career fields,” Arthur explained.
“The Air Force and US Congress have recognized what the E-11A platform brings to the fight. As a result, we are standing up a new squadron of E-11s at Robins AFB in February of 2023.”
US E-11A Fleet
The aircraft handover is part of a $464.8 million program signed with Bombardier’s Learjet in 2021 to modify up to six Global 6000 aircraft to the E-11A BACN configuration.
In 2022, the first plane of the fleet was delivered to Hanscom AFB in Massachusetts.
Apart from the six planned E-11As, the US Air Force received four additional Global aircraft in 2012 under a separate agreement.