USAF receives seventh E-11 BACN from Bombardier

Bombardier Defense has announced that it has delivered another E-11 Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) to the USAF, growing the number of the airborne communications relay and gateway system aircraft in US military service to seven airframes.

The Global 6500-based aircraft was delivered as part of a $465m five-year contract that was awarded to Bombardier subsidiary, Learjet, in 2021. This contract gives the USAF the option to annually procure additional E-11 BACN aircraft until 2026. The first four surviving BACN aircraft are operated by the USAF’s 430th Expeditionary Electronic Communications Squadron (EECS) ‘Black Wolves’ at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, and are employed across US Central Command’s (CENTCOM’s) area of responsibility. A fifth aircraft (11-9358) was lost in a fatal accident in Afghanistan in 2020.

Bombardier recently celebrated the delivery of its seventh E-11 BACN (22-9047) to the USAF at the firm’s Hartford Service Center at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
Bombardier recently celebrated the delivery of its seventh E-11 BACN (22-9047) to the USAF at the firm’s Hartford Service Center at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. Bombardier Defense

Two new BACN aircraft are now operated by the USAF’s 18th Airborne Command and Control Squadron (ACCS), which was activated during in a ceremony at Robins AFB, Georgia, on February 10, 2023, as a geographically separated unit that falls under the command of the 319th Reconnaissance Wing (RW) at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.

The BACN aircraft is a specialised communications platform, serving as a high-altitude universal communications gateway, relaying voice and data communications between air and surface forces and able to overcome traditional communications barriers, including mountains and distance. Dubbed the ‘Wi-Fi in the Sky’ by USAF pilots and operators, the E-11 is based on the Global Express family of business jets. Early versions of the type – based on the Global Express, Express XRS and Global 6000 are designated E-11As in USAF service, while the later aircraft – based on the Global 6500 – may be known as the E-11B operationally.