USAF officially designates aircraft flying Battlefield Airborne Communications Node system
The two different aircraft platforms that fly the Northrop Grumman Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) system have been officially designated by the US Air Force as the E-11A and the EQ-4B.
According to a statement by Northrop Grumman, the Bombardier Global Express BD-700 received the new E-11A designation, reflecting BACN's special electronic mission role. The Northrop Grumman Global Hawk RQ-4Bs modified to host the BACN system have been re-designated as EQ-4Bs.
On 21 September, the air force awarded Northrop Grumman a $43 million, five-month contract extension to operate, support and maintain two E-11A aircraft and to operate and maintain the BACN payload.
BACN is a high-altitude, airborne communications gateway system that maintains operational communications support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The persistent connectivity BACN provides improves situational awareness and enables better coordination between forward-edge warfighters and commanders.
‘This new designation of the manned and unmanned BACN aircraft reflects a unique aircraft mix that provides theatre commanders complimentary capabilities to support the BACN missions,’ said Claude Hashem, vice president and general manager of the Network Communications Systems business at Northrop Grumman's Information Systems sector.
'The E-11A business jets provide rapid tactical deployment options, while the EQ-4B unmanned systems provide long endurance and unsurpassed persistence capabilities.'
Since the system was first deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2008, BACN has flown more than 25,000 operational hours in over 2,500 missions and delivered a mission availability rate of 98%.
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