The E-11A is a modified, Bombardier Global Express 6000/BD700-1A10 business jet equipped with specialized communications relay equipment to translate between tactical comm and data links.It provides joint range extension, BLOS C2, and internet protocol-based data transfer between dissimilar systems.
E-11A was fielded to meet an urgent operational need for BLOS air-to-ground relay. The system entered combat in Afghanistan in 2008 and enables troops to overcome comm limitations in rugged terrain.
The fleet was designated E-11A after USAF purchased the first previously leased aircraft in 2011. The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) payload is integrated on a mixed fleet of manned E-11As and unmanned EQ-4B Global Hawks, though USAF is seeking to fully replace the EQ-4B with E-11As.
The combined BACN fleet has provided near-constant coverage in theater, surpassing 100,000 flying hours in 2019. A single aircraft crashed north of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, on Jan. 27, 2020, killing both aircrew.
Northrop Grumman was awarded a $3.6 billion five-year support contract on Jan. 21, which also includes funding for research, development and testing, as well as the integration of future payloads. Ongoing upgrades include adding military GPS to operate in higher-end threat environments, fourth- to fifth-gen. gateway (to relay data between advanced and legacy fleets), Link 16, advanced navigation, and flight safety, reliability, and performance improvements.
FY21 launches self-defensive/survivability improvement and procurement of six additional airframes at a rate of one aircraft per year.
Contractors: Bombardier, Northrop Grumman (integration and support).
First Flight: August 2007.
Delivered: Dec. 2008-Aug. 30, 2012.
IOC: Circa 2011.
Production: Four (nine planned).
Aircraft Location: Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Active Variants: •E-11A. Modified Bombardier BD-700 equipped with the BACN payload.
Dimensions: Span 94 ft, length 99 ft 5 in, height 25 ft 6 in.
Weight: Max T-O 99,500 lb.
Power Plant: Two Rolls-Royce BR710A2-20 turbofans, each 14,750 lb thrust.
Performance: Speed Mach 0.88, range 6,900 miles.
Ceiling: 51,000 ft.
Accommodation: Two pilots.