Northrop Grumman [NOC] said on June 6 that the U.S. Air Force has awarded the company a nearly $269 million task order through January, 2027 for continued operations and sustainment of the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).


Global 6000s, once outfitted with the Northrop Grumman BACN package, become E-11As in the Air Force inventory.

Last October, the Air Force chose Northrop Grumman to support the aircraft at their first base in the continental United States–Robins AFB, Ga. (Defense Daily, Oct. 17, 2023).

The task order announced by Northrop Grumman on June 6 covers operations and sustainment of current and future payloads; 24/7 connectivity;  and “inclusion of the BACN platform in four large force customer exercises per year for the duration of the task order,” the company said.

In January last year, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $464 million contract through Jan. 23, 2028 for “platform maintenance and main operating base contractor logistics support establishment.”

A month later, the Air Force activated the 18th Airborne Command and Control Squadron at Robins to fly BACN. The BACN squadron under the 319th Reconnaissance Wing at Grand Forks, N.D., is expected be fully operational by fiscal year 2027.

In January 2021 the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a BACN operations and sustainment contract worth up to $3.6 billion.

The BACN payload has had extensive combat field time since deployment began on Global Hawk drones in October 2008, Northrop Grumman has said (Defense Daily, Apr. 22, 2022).

Kevin Berkowitz, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of secure processing and networks, said in the company’s statement on June 6 that “the battlespace is becoming increasingly complex, and the data interoperability BACN provides between legacy and emerging systems will be critical to future mission success.”

Northrop Grumman said on June 6 that BACN will be critical in allowing Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control.

“BACN technology reduces line-of-sight issues by enabling real-time information flow across the battlespace between similar and dissimilar tactical data link and voice systems through relay, bridging, and data translation,” the Air Force has said. “Because of its flexible deployment options and ability to operate at high altitudes, BACN allows air and surface forces to overcome communications difficulties caused by mountains, rough terrain, or distance.”