A brand-new Bombardier E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communication Node (BACN) has arrived at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, where it will be operated by the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) 430th Expeditionary Electronic Communications Squadron (EECS) ‘Black Wolves’ in support of operations in US Central Command’s (CENTCOM’s) area of responsibility (AOR).
The new-build aircraft (serial 21-9045) arrived at the Saudi base on December 16 and was procured by the USAF to help keep the ‘Black Wolves’ and its already established fleet of forward deployed E-11As airborne, providing constant combat communications support to in-theatre US and allied commanders and military assets across a variety of operational domains in the Middle East. At present, the 430th EECS is the only unit in the USAF that operates the E-11A BACN, which serves to provide extended aerial command and control (C2) capabilities to air assets and troops on the ground in the battlespace.
Commenting on the arrival of this new aircraft and the 430th’s overall mission, Lt Col Todd Arthur – commander of the ‘Black Wolves’ – said: “This new E-11A will relieve the pressure on the rest of our fleet and enable us to sustain a high mission capable rate. Having an additional aircraft will give our maintenance team another option to reliably put combat airpower into the skies.
“The 430th supports warfighters who conduct around the clock operations in the CENTCOM AOR. We supply communication coverage to ground and air forces in active combat zones, who require consistent, clear communications to higher levels of leadership and other command and control assets,” he added.
Since the inception of the BACN mission in 2008, the 430th EECS has consistently flown thousands of flight hours annually, boasting high mission success rates across the Middle East and proving the capability to be an essential component of modern warfighting.
In light of this, the USAF ordered a further six Bombardier Global 6000-based E-11A BACN aircraft in a deal worth $464.85m on June 1, 2021. Work under this contract will be performed in Wichita, Kansas, and is expected to be completed by May 2026. The USAF subsequently announced plans to establish a E-11A BACN squadron at Robins Air Force Base (AFB) in Georgia, which will serve under the 319th Reconnaissance Wing (RW) – which is home-based at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota – as a geographically separated unit (GSU). This unit will be stood up at Robins later this year.