Military News

Monday, September 23, 2013

Air Combat Command takes delivery of latest life-saving aircraf

by Staff SGt. Candice C. Page

9/23/2013 - LANGLEY AFB, Va. -- Air Combat Command received the latest E-11A aircraft equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, Sept. 18 before it joined the rest of the fleet at a deployed location in Afghanistan.

The additional aircraft will increase communication coverage for ground troops in forward-deployed locations, said Lt. Col. Eric Moses, ACC deputy chief Tactical Data Links Enterprise.

Air Force and joint warfighters use the BACN-equipped aircraft to communicate over rugged terrain using multiple radios and waveforms to maintain situational awareness and call in assistance.

BACN bridges communication gaps between ground troops and airborne support beyond the capabilities they would normally have on the battlefield with just their traditional communication equipment, said Col. Jim Wildes, ACC chief Tactical Data Links Enterprise.

"That extra communication can make a difference between life and death when you are talking about airborne support for the ground forces engaged with the enemy," Moses said.

The system currently operates on two platforms: the E-11A, a modified Bombardier business jet and the EQ-4B, a Global Hawk Block 20 remotely piloted aircraft.

The program began in 2006 during a Joint Expeditionary Force Exercise to meet challenges associated with operating in rugged terrain for forces with limited communications. In 2009, it became a Joint Urgent Operations Need, program in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan.

"The BACN team has received many reports from the theater crediting the BACN for helping save lives," Moses said.

"The Army and the Air Force love this airplane in Afghanistan; it helps get rapid support to any critical situation on the ground," said Wildes. "When you have a possibility of troops dying within seconds and no way to communicate the location, units are now able to communicate their location in a matter of seconds to the E-11A and pull in support for either air-to-ground strikes or ground-to-ground strikes."

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