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An E-11A aircraft outfitted with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, takes off at an undisclosed location. BACN enables interoperability across voice and datalink networks and the Space, Aerial and Nuclear Network Division here recently awarded a contract to ensure continued maintenance for the E-11A platform. (Courtesy photo)
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Contract award helps keep BACN airborne

Posted 11/20/2012   Updated 11/20/2012 Email story   Print story


by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

11/20/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Space, Aerial and Nuclear Network Division here recently awarded a firm-fixed-price contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. for long-term platform maintenance on four E-11A aircraft.

The current amount awarded is $48 million, which is for a one-year base. There are four one-year options, which could eventually bring the value to $260 million.

The E-11A aircraft are modified Bombardier business jets outfitted with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, payload that enables interoperability across voice and datalink networks. It also provides beyond-line-of-sight capability and voice and data relay to allow for critical communications between air and ground forces.

In addition to the business jets, BACN is also installed on three Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft.

"BACN can relay and broadcast a variety of information and is currently being used very effectively by warfighters throughout the theater of operations," said Maj. Bill Holl, program manager. "By awarding this contract we can ensure continued maintenance is performed on the E-11A aircraft to keep this crucial capability available to the warfighters."

Program officials expect this work to be complete by February 2018. The contract is in support of the BACN Joint Urgent Operational Need (JUON) and the majority of the performance is expected to be done in Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We had a full and open competition, which allowed us to make sure we got the best value for the government and, ultimately, the taxpayer, and also ensures the E-11A aircraft are maintained in the most effective and efficient manner to support tactical communications," said Holl.

The BACN JUON program began as an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration in 2006 to meet the challenges associated with operating in mountainous terrain, such as limited line-of-sight. In 2009, it became a Joint Urgent Operational Need program to provide support to Operation Enduring Freedom.

"The BACN program was initiated to provide increased situational awareness for our warfighters by allowing for connectivity between dissimilar systems," said Holl. "The team continues to look for ways to optimize BACN's capabilities and provide even more support to the warfighter."

Since the first aircraft with BACN deployed in 2008, the fleet has flown more than 3,000 missions and 30,000 hours in support of OEF.

"The program office continues to receive praise from warfighters and commanders alike saying how BACN is a game changer," said Holl.

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