BEDFORD, Mass., Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force's Battlefield Airborne Communications Node program reached 100,000 combat hours in over seven years of service.
BACN provides deployed warfighters with communications capabilities, which includes forwarding and translating voice and data across several networks. The system is used with the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle, and has flown on over 1,500 combat missions and completed 21,000 combat flight hours in 2015 alone.
"For more than seven years now, BACN has been deployed supporting warfighter critical communication needs," Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks program executive officer Maj. Gen. Craig Olson said. "This capability has revolutionized the way we think about communications, providing strategic agility to DOD and coalition partners through increased interoperability and range extension for ground, air and space forces."
Developed by the Air Force and Northrop Grumman, BACN took its first flight in November 2005, demonstrated in Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment in 2006, and deployed to the theater in 2008.
The Air Force has plans to continue work on the system, and intends to award a sole source follow-on contract to Northrop Grumman for operating and maintaining BACN system payloads. Work on that contract is expected to begin in January 2017, with options that may continue the work until January 2021.