Northrop Grumman to operate BACN voice and data gateway electronic payload for airborne communications

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Military communications experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. will continue operating and maintaining for a major battlefield airborne communications system involving manned and unmanned aircraft under terms of a $149.6 million contract announced Tuesday.

Jan 23rd, 2019
Northrop Grumman to operate BACN voice and data gateway electronic payload for airborne communications
Northrop Grumman to operate BACN voice and data gateway electronic payload for airborne communications
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Military communications experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. will continue operating and maintaining for a major battlefield airborne communications system involving manned and unmanned aircraft under terms of a $149.6 million contract announced Tuesday.

Officials of the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., are asking the Northrop Grumman Corp. Aerospace Systems segment in San Diego to provide option year one for BACN payload operations and sustainment.

The BACN is an electronic payload aboard the E-11A and Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk large unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The E-11A is based on the Bombardier Global Express business jet.

On Tuesday the Northrop Grumman Technology Services segment in Herndon, Va., also won a $44.4 million contract for logistics support on four E-11A aircraft, as well as subsystems and support equipment in support of military operations in Afghanistan.

Related: Air Force eyes airborne communications node with artificial intelligence to exploit enemy weaknesses

The BACN uses the Airborne Executive Processor (AEP) to enable a persistent voice and data gateway in the sky that receives, bridges, and distributes communications among all participants in a battle.

Last fall the Northrop Grumman Corp. Mission Systems segment in Middle River, Md., won an $80.2 million order for military Global Positioning System (GPS) capability for BACN nodes aboard the E-11A jet, as well as to enhance the system's positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT).

The BACN payload aboard the E-11A and Global Hawk helps enable diverse battlefield weapon systems to communicate with each other during in-theater operations where mountainous terrain, large buildings, or other obstructions inhibit line-of-sight communications.

Military leaders found that such obstructions could limit operating units to see only a limited set of the complete picture of the battlefield. The BACN command and control network is designed to provide situational awareness from small ground units in contact up to the highest command levels, Northrop Grumman officials say.

Related: Northrop Grumman to enhance positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) for BACN command and control

BACN’s AEP provides translator and gateway interfaces among all supported communications systems, and forwards intelligence information to the Global Information Grid. By controlling the AEP via a ground station, BACN is radio- and platform-agnostic, Northrop Grumman officials say.

On these deals Northrop Grumman will do the work in San Diego; Middle River, Md.; Kandahar, Afghanistan; and at several international sites, and should be finished by January 2020.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems online at www.northropgrumman.com, Northrop Grumman Technology Services at www.northropgrumman.com, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems at www.northropgrumman.com, or the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at www.wpafb.af.mil/aflcmc.

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