Air Force Prepares to Welcome E-11A

The Air Force has announced the purchase of a Bombardier BD-700 Global Express aircraft for use as an overhead communications-relay platform in Southwest Asia. This aircraft carries Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, which allows disparate battlefield communications systems to share data. The Air Force had been leasing this aircraft, but then decided it would make more business sense to purchase it. “The prime contractor understands the military is looking to effectively use every dollar provided and worked hand-in-hand with the government team to facilitate the transition of this new platform into the [Air Force] inventory,” a spokesman for the Electronics System Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass., told the Daily Report Thursday. The Air Force is expected to take possession of the aircraft in July, after which it will assume the designation E-11A. Air Force officials have spoken of installing BACN on three BD-700s and then on two Global Hawk Block 20 remotely piloted aircraft in order to fill the urgent need of the combatant commander in Southwest Asia for more battlefield communications capability. (DOD June 10 contract list) (For background, see also Northrop’s July 2009 release.)