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
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,
"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."