HomeNewsArticle Display

Comms program hits 100,000 hours of warfighter connectivity

Senior Airman Jose pulls a set of chalks while escorting an RQ-4 Global Hawk back to a hangar during ground operations at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia September 18, 2015. Jose is an assistant dedicated crew chief assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

An Airman pulls a set of chalks while escorting a RQ-4 Global Hawk back to a hangar during ground operations at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia Sept. 18, 2015. The Global Hawk block 20 aircraft carry the Battlefield Airborne Communication Node payload, which ensures connectivity for warfighters. The BACN system, managed out of Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., recently achieved 100,000 combat flight hours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- A program managed here to ensure warfighters can stay connected despite differing networks and austere environments recently reached a significant milestone and is also on a path to keep moving forward.

The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) program reached 100,000 combat flight hours Jan. 30. The system, which provides coalition interoperability among air, space and surface systems by forwarding and translating voice and data across disparate networks, began operating in theater in 2008.

In 2015 alone, the system flew on more than 1,500 combat missions and 21,000 combat flight hours.

"For more than seven years now, BACN has been deployed supporting warfighter critical communication needs," said Maj. Gen. Craig Olson, the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks program executive officer. "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."

BACN began as an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration in 2006 to meet the challenges associated with operating in mountainous regions with limited line-of-sight, and in 2009 became a Joint Urgent Operational Need program to support Operation Enduring Freedom. It currently operates on two airborne platforms: one manned, the E-11A aircraft; and one remotely piloted, the Global Hawk Block 20s.

According to program officials, BACN provides the warfighter a high-altitude relay, providing reliable, dynamic communication links. Its myriad abilities include: an extended range of voice and tactical data networks; data exchange and translation across TDNs using various message standards and systems; voice communications interoperability between disparate radio systems; and unification of separate TDNs into a seamless, larger network.

The group operating the system in theater realizes the benefits BACN provides.

"BACN has been instrumental in extending communications and enhancing situational awareness throughout Afghanistan," said the contracting officer's representative for the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron. "The missions range from support for troops in contact to enabling strikes against key targets. BACN is a key part of the C2 backbone."

They also realize the significance of the milestone.

"The entire team in country is proud to have contributed to passing the 100,000-hour milestone for the BACN program," said the 430th EECS commander. "Having the E-11As overhead on a 24/7 basis has provided important radio bridges and datalink extensions to the warfighters on the ground and in the air. We are happy that we can support the ongoing efforts of the entire Freedom's Sentinel and Resolute Support missions."

And the program office is working to ensure this support can continue. In December, they released a notice of contract action. They intend to award a sole source follow-on contract for operations and support to Northrop Grumman Corp. for operating and maintaining the BACN system payloads. The work is expected to begin in January 2017 and may continue through January 2021 in optioned intervals of no more than 12 months each. Work will include continued payload operations and maintenance, periodic software upgrades and providing spares and repair parts.

"Achieving 100,000 combat flight hours for a program with JUON origins is an incredible milestone which highlights the importance of this capability," Olson said. "BACN has become a true force multiplier, and it is laying the foundation for the future of aerial layer networking. The BACN team and I are excited about the future of the program and we are ready to support this warfighter requirement for as long as it's needed."

(Editor's note: Names from expeditionary units were not included for security reasons.)

Engage

Twitter
RT @DefenseOne: JOIN US TODAY @ 2 P.M. ET when our “State of Defense” series continues with a live interview featuring U.S. Air Force Chief…
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Teaching service members how to effectively shoot weapons. That’s the job of Combat Arms Training and Management. Watch…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Team - 25 years ago today, we lost 24 U.S. & Canadian Airmen in the Yukla 27 crash. It was a surveillance training so…
Twitter
Taking care of Airmen and their families! https://t.co/AVeidzDPcV
Twitter
Wherever Airmen go, the Federal Voting Assistance Program ensures their voice is heard. @FVAP works to ensure servi… https://t.co/tkJts1yo3Z
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: For #HispanicHeritageMonth, we're celebrating the stories of Hispanic & Latino Airmen! @188thWG SSgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez…
Twitter
#TotalForce Airmen participate in night operations during a base-wide, total force exercise @HAFB. Airmen & pilots… https://t.co/kJYNKwHY7n
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: California fires/smoke no match for UTA Airmen - https://t.co/pJysQ6snRh (Story by the @940Wing) #ReserveReady #ReserveRes
Twitter
Whistleblowers are NOT insider threats. Learn the difference and how you can appropriately report questionable gove… https://t.co/AaTvBfHcTv
Twitter
SrA Denise Arabie, 319th Operations Support Squadron radar approach controller @319thRW, describes the importance o… https://t.co/zkwMx6Qw3i
Twitter
RT @173rdFW: "I may have lost everything, but thanks to the support we’ve found here, I’m going to be back on my feet inside of a few weeks…
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official sat down and discussed how the Air Force will continue exempting Airmen from PT t… https://t.co/bWVig9fSOW
Twitter
SrA Mark Gonzalez describes how his job enables the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to support the Bomber Task Force depl… https://t.co/sceKCtM3Pz
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Our Airmen come from all walks of life — and we are stronger for it. Staff Sgt. Kalinin, 56th Force Support Squadron ALS…
Twitter
“It's critical to have that diversity in the Air Force that we have today because it is truly through that diversit… https://t.co/RIDQDjdlCr
Twitter
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron @EielsonAirForce takeoff in support of exercise Valia… https://t.co/cf0raGgEUD
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: "This test, and others like it, can shape the future of the MQ-9, as we continue to increase its relevance in great power com…
Twitter
"We cannot rest on our laurels. It is all about the people, folks, and they will guarantee our readiness, and are f… https://t.co/BsNDUSw0wE
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: USAFCENT Airmen and coalition partners are executing missions of national, regional and global importance and Exercise Desert…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,281,142
Follow Us