USAF E-11A BACN crashes in Afghanistan

A US Air Force (USAF) operated E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) - serial 11-9358 (c/n 9358) - has crashed in Afghanistan.

The aircraft crashed on January 27 in the Taliban-controlled Dih Yak district in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan. The aircraft was operated from Kandahar air base by the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron (EECS) - a part of the 451st Air Expeditionary Group, supporting US Central Command (CENTCOM) operations in the Middle East.

E-11A BACN - registration 11-9358
E-11A BACN - registration 11-9358 - landing at RAF Mildenhall in September 2012. Mark Rourke


The E-11A

First flown in August 2007 aboard Bombardier BD700 Global Express test aircraft N901GX, the USAF’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) was developed by Northrop Grumman to support operations over the rugged terrain of Afghanistan.

The BACN provides the capability to conduct voice bridging/translation, Tactical Data Link (TDL) gateway, and TDL relay functions for beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications over long distances and is installed on four manned E-11A aircraft and four unmanned Block 20 EQ-4B remotely piloted aircraft.

Following the prototype, the BACN was integrated on two Global Express XRS aircraft that were deployed to Afghanistan in late 2008. The three BACN aircraft were originally leased from Northrop Grumman but were purchased by the USAF in 2011 and the designation E-11A was assigned.

Northrop Grumman subsequently integrated the system with a Global 6000 to create a fourth E-11A that was delivered in late 2013.

Forward-deployed E-11As are operated by the 451st Air Expeditionary Group’s 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. With plans to field a fifth E-11A, the USAF issued a Sources Sought notice seeking contractor’s that could provide a ‘green’ unfinished Global 6000 aircraft for the program in October 2018.



UPDATE (27/01/2020 - 2000hrs): The US military have confirmed that a Bombardier E-11A has crashed. Col Sonny Leggett, spokesman for US Forces - Afghanistan, said: "While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire. We will provide additional information as it becomes available." 

He also added that additional claims made by the Taliban that additional aircraft had crashed were "false".

Twitter - Col Sonny Leggett
Col Sonny Leggett on Twitter - @USFOR_A


UPDATE (28/01/2020 - 1610hrs): The Air Force Times has reported that the remains of two US service personnel have been recovered from the E-11A crash site in Afghanistan, citing an unnamed defence official as its source.

The official also added that there were only two US troops on board the aircraft when it went down and reiterated that it was not downed as a result of enemy fire. An American recovery team deployed to the crash site in the Ghazni province and met no hostile resistance.

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