More Communications Relay Global Hawks Requested

Defense Officials have requested funding be reprogrammed to modify two additional RQ-4 Global Hawks as battlefield communication relay aircraft, said Bill Walker, Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk business development manager. Congress also is considering redirection of funding to “expand the communications capability” of the Air Force’s existing Battlefield Airborne Communications Node fleet, Walker explained at an unmanned-systems conference in Washington D.C., recently. The Air Force operates a total of two Global Hawk Block 20s and three Bombardier BD-700 Global Express jets equipped with the Northrop Grumman’s BACN suite. Fielded to meet an urgent operational need, “those airplanes deployed last fall and have been providing almost continuous coverage for Central Command” in Afghanistan, noted Walker. In addition to upgrading and expanding the fleet, the request “also asks for money to buy two of those business jets” which had previously been leased, said Walker. The Air Force already purchased one of the three Global Express jets in June, designating the aircraft E-11A in USAF service. (See also The BACN Surge in the Daily Report archives)