The two different aircraft platforms that fly the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) system, developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), have been officially designated by the U.S. Air Force as the E-11A and the EQ-4B.
The Bombardier Global Express BD-700 received the new E-11A designation, reflecting BACN's special electronic mission role. The Northrop Grumman Global Hawk RQ-4Bs modified to host the BACN system have been re-designated as EQ-4Bs.
On Sept. 21, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $43 million, five-month contract extension to operate, support and maintain two E-11A aircraft and to operate and maintain the BACN payload.
BACN is a high-altitude, airborne communications gateway system that maintains operational communications support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The persistent connectivity BACN provides improves situational awareness and enables better coordination between forward-edge warfighters and commanders.
"This new designation of the manned and unmanned BACN aircraft reflects a unique aircraft mix that provides theater commanders complimentary capabilities to support the BACN missions," said Claude Hashem, vice president and general manager of the company's Network Communications Systems business at Northrop Grumman's Information Systems sector. "The E-11A business jets provide rapid tactical deployment options, while the EQ-4B unmanned systems provide long endurance and unsurpassed persistence capabilities."
Since the system was first deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2008, BACN has flown more than 25,000 operational hours in over 2,500 missions and delivered a mission availability rate of 98 percent.
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the development, fielding and maintenance of the BACN system. The company was awarded the first BACN contract in April 2005 by the Air Force Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.
Related Research on ASDReports.com: