Northrop Grumman’s [NOC] Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) completed its 3,000th mission recently aboard an E-11A Bombardier Global Express BD-700 military modified corporate aircraft in support of overseas operations, according to a company statement.

BACN is a high-altitude, airborne communications and information gateway system that provides situational awareness and command and control coordination between warfighters and commanders. BACN bridges and extends voice communications and battlespace information from numerous sources, including nearly every tactical and civil radio system, via a suite of computers and radio systems, according to Northrop Grumman spokeswoman Janis Lamar. Lamar said some examples include Link 16, Common Link Integration Processing (CLIP), Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW), Highband Networking Waveform (HNW) and Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS).

Northrop Grumman developed BACN for the Air Force to overcome communications limitations posed by rugged, mountainous terrain in Afghanistan. Northrop Grumman was awarded a $106 million contract modification June 21 to extend the deployment and operation of BACN payloads installed in three E-11A aircraft and three EQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles. The award supports operations through 2013. Northrop Grumman develops the Global Hawk.

Northrop Grumman was also awarded on June 21 a $50.6 million BACN firm-fixed price contract for eight months of E-11A platform maintenance support for aircraft 9355, 9358 and 9001.

Lamar said BACN works by continuously deploying one E-11A after another to provide continuous connectivity.

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for BACN. Lamar said Northrop Grumman manages both the payload and platform maintenance on the E-11As while on the EQ-4Bs, the company manages the payload while the Air Force manages the platform.

Bombardier Aerospace, which develops the Global Express, is a division of Bombardier, Inc.