SAN DIEGO, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman reports its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node for the U.S. Air Force has been used on 5,000 combat missions and proved its worth.
BACN is a high-altitude airborne system that translates and distributes voice communications, video and other battlespace communications from various sources for enhanced situational awareness and command-and-control coordination. It is being used in Afghanistan on four E-11A manned aircraft and three unmanned aerial systems.
"Initially deployed by Northrop Grumman to satisfy a joint urgent operational need, BACN is now a key enabler of surface and airborne missions theaterwide," said Mike Twyman, sector vice president and general manager of the Defense Systems division for Northrop Grumman Information Systems. "BACN's continuous mission availability, quick reaction capability and flexibility have made it a real game changer in theater."
Northrop notes the system's beyond-line-of-sight communications capability has been particularly in Afghanistan by overcoming the communications limitations posed by the country's rugged terrain.
"We constantly get feedback from theater telling us how important BACN is for their missions," said Maj. William Holl, the Air Force BACN program manager at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. "Without BACN, ground forces would have to rely on much slower satellite communications -- and a few seconds can make all the difference when you are under fire."
BACN, developed by Northrop Grumman under a 2005 U.S. Air Force contract, was first deployed in 2008.