The US Air Force has awarded Bombardier a $464.8 million contract for the delivery of Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft that will carry the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).
The contract provides for the purchase of up to six aircraft and completion work. All six airframes are expected to be delivered May 2026.
According to the air force, there are currently seven aircraft carrying the BACN payload, which provides military commanders with a long-range, over-the-horizon secure communication capability. The payload is carried by two different platforms: three manned Bombardier E-11As and four unmanned Global Hawk E-Q4Bs.
The service lost one E-11A aircraft carrying the BACN payload in Afghanistan after it suffered an engine failure in January 2020.
In January this year, the air force awarded a $3.6 billion contract to Northrop Grumman for operations, sustainment, and support of the BACN.
The five-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity agreement also includes funds for research, development, testing and evaluation, and integration of existing and future payloads. The contract also provides support for infrastructure contained in or connected to the BACN system and associated ground stations, controls, and ancillary or support equipment for system integration laboratories.
BACN technology was fielded in 2009 and the first combat mission was flown over Afghanistan in December 2010. The technology connects troops to combat pilots, despite adverse terrain or distance, often when terrestrial services are either restricted or unavailable.