HomeNewsArticle Display

BACN improves communication for deployed troops

A 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron E-11A outfitted with a Battlefield Airborne Communications Node sits on the runway at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2018. The payload allows command and control to get in contact with the troops on the ground to enable the mission accomplishment.

A 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron E-11A outfitted with a Battlefield Airborne Communications Node sits on the runway at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2018. The payload allows command and control to get in contact with the troops on the ground to enable the mission accomplishment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaylee Dubois)

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- There is an aircraft that is so unique, you can only find it in one place – not even the pilots who fly the aircraft can touch it until they are deployed to this specific location.

All of the Air Force’s E-11A aircraft with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node payload are assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron and operate solely out of Kandahar Airfield.

BACN “is like Wi-Fi in the sky,” explained Capt. Jacob Breth, 430th EECS pilot.

The BACN was developed in direct response to communication shortfalls during Operation Red Wings, a joint U.S. military mission in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in 2005. The operation became well known following the success of the book and subsequent movie “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL and the only surviving member of the mission.

Due to Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain and lack of existing communication infrastructure, serious communication challenges prevented the four-man SEAL patrol from effectively establishing contact with their combat operations center, leaving them vulnerable to the attacks that claimed the lives of 19 special operations forces service members.

The BACN works to ensure a consistent and effective form of communication in nearly any location or environment, significantly reducing the possibility of communication failure and increasing the rate of mission success. The payload, or package of sensors carried on the E-11A, allows command and control to get in contact with the troops on the ground, and vice versa, to enable mission accomplishment, Breth said.

Breth, a C-130J Super Hercules pilot deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, like all other pilots assigned to fly the E-11A aircraft, flew it for the first time while deployed.

“The training for the E-11A is about a month in the simulator,” Breth said. “Then we have about a week of in-theater indoctrination training.”

Breth added the high-fidelity flight simulator made flying the plane like second nature, and he quickly adapted to the differences between flying the commercial airliner and his typical cargo aircraft.

While the pilots help keep troops safe on the ground, Master Sgt. Jason Muehl, 430th EECS Quality Assurance evaluator, ensures the safety of the pilots through thorough aircraft inspections.

“What we are doing out there is important,” Muehl said. “Our contractors are the ones doing the maintenance work to keep the planes flying, and I just ensure they are doing things correctly to keep our mission going and the troop’s safe out there.”

Since arriving in Afghanistan nine years ago, the BACN weapons system has become well-regarded by ground and air assets, Breth said. While he and his team are highly respected by others at Kandahar, Breth is just happy with what he deems a “traditional deployment.”

“The most rewarding part of my job is knowing we are providing a service for the heroes on the ground and in the air,” Breth said. “We are just doing our small part to aid in the war effort.”

The 430th EECS is a geographically separated unit of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing headquartered at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
#DYK: @DMAFB is one of seven #AirForce bases w/forward area refueling point capabilities, and there are only 63 qua… https://t.co/UI2SzoYdjA
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Anyone out there watch Super Bowl LIII? Well, @USNorthernCmd and NORAD fighter aircraft kept the airspace safe during t…
#AirForce formalizes policy on retention of non-deployable Airmen. https://t.co/O8yfj5acRt https://t.co/7t5ynNMgo2
It's a 2-way street! Find out how our #ProfessionalDevelopment Teams are a benefit to both mentor and mentee.… https://t.co/nxmtpZWnis
.@30thSpaceWing civilians use #innovation, reutilization, and team dynamics to save #USAF $1 billion.… https://t.co/TpFKYvaxay
.@374AirliftWing #Airmen are leading the way, learning how the M50 gas mask works w/other #USAF large-frame aircraf… https://t.co/n3cuh1OQnd
“Being self-aware and keeping my mental composure through very intense situations was key.” - Senior #Airman Jeffre… https://t.co/DM22RiBKNN
Citing health, safety concerns, @SecAFOfficial and @GenDaveGoldfein order commanders to conduct ‘100% review’ of al… https://t.co/DzvwOAQDvH
The 6 finalists of @SecAFOfficial’s #SparkTank initiative will showcase their ideas to #USAF senior leaders at… https://t.co/s9PUuNa3BN
The U.S. considers freedom to operate in #space a vital national interest, one that is fundamental to prosperity &… https://t.co/qcgciOUiTe
WARNING: This will leave you wanting more! https://t.co/8oLhRQXyiE
RT @cspan: Today on C-SPAN: 10am – Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew @atlanticcouncil 12:15pm – U.S. Withdrawal from #Afghanistan @cftni
#DYK ice can make an aircraft heavier and freeze the flight controls? Maintenance #Airmen ensure frozen contaminati… https://t.co/cymhD8VQI2
Let's start this #B2uesday off right and ready! @Whiteman_AFB https://t.co/u4zY77HJWx
Find out how integrated #combat turns, or ICTs, are making a major impact on combat operations! @DMAFB https://t.co/EBezmHLrgq
RT @DeptofDefense: #PresidentsDay was initially created to honor the birthday of George Washington, but since then, it’s become a day to ho…
#MentorMonday: To whom do you look for guidance? https://t.co/u6nQ44PrZz
An #Airman @124thFighterWing participates in a Major Readiness Exercise at #GowenField in #Boise, Idaho. (… https://t.co/PzSIjWaxF3