Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered a Global Hawk unmanned aircraft to the U.S. Air Force carrying the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) – expanding airborne communications and information sharing among military units in harsh environments.
Northrop Grumman produced and delivered the system four months ahead of schedule as part of an ongoing BACN development, operations and maintenance contract to support U.S. Central Command missions.
“By pairing BACN and Global Hawk, military commanders can provide the system’s critical capabilities during a single flight lasting more than 30 hours,” said George Guerra, Global Hawk unmanned air systems vice president with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “This is important when ground units operate in mountainous terrain where land-based communications systems don’t function as well.”
BACN bridges and extends voice communications and information sharing from numerous sources using a suite of computers and radio systems. It’s also installed on two other EQ-4B Global Hawk aircraft and three E-11A Bombardier Global Express BD-700 aircraft.
“Our military counts on the enhanced combat effectiveness provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the BACN gateway capability. With another BACN system flying on Global Hawk, the team continues to provide unsurpassed communications capabilities at exceptional operational availability rates,” said Claude Hashem, vice president of network communications systems business with Northrop Grumman Information Systems.
The aircraft was delivered Sept. 7 to Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., after a flight from the company’s production facility in Palmdale, Calif.
The Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $47 million contract in December 2011 for the purchase and integration of two BACN payloads on two existing Global Hawk aircraft. The company also delivered the BACN-equipped Global Hawk in June 2012 early.
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the development, fielding and maintenance of the BACN system and the EQ-4B Global Hawk aircraft. The company was awarded the first BACN contract in 2005 with the payload deployed for the first time in 2008. The company is also the prime contractor for the Air Force’s Global Hawk program.