Lurking in the shadows of secrecy, the E-11A is perhaps the most vital relay and gateway platform in the USAF’s order of battle. Tom Kaminski examines the role of Bombardier’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node
One of the least known yet most important platforms in the United States Air Force (USAF) inventory is assigned the designation E-11A. It is one of two airframes modified to serve as a Battlefield Airborne Communications Node – or BACN.
Utilising the airframe of a Bombardier BD-700 Global Express business jet, the E-11A is a manned aircraft that until recently shared the relay/gateway role with the EQ-4B variant of the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned air system (UAS). Described as 'Wi-Fi in the sky', the system proved an invaluable asset in the skies over Afghanistan, where it operated on a 24/7 basis.