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Northrop’s BACN hits operational milestone

Battlefield Airborne Communications Node

The prime’s BACN gateway system has surpassed 200,000 flight hours in 12 years of deployment with the US Air Force.

The prime’s BACN gateway system has surpassed 200,000 flight hours in 12 years of deployment with the US Air Force.

Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) gateway system has hit a new milestone, reaching 200,000 combat operational flight hours since its first deployment with the US Air Force in 2008.   

This includes 15,500 combat flight hours on US Air Force missions, delivering a mission availability rate above 98 per cent over the past 12 years.


“This significant milestone further demonstrates the BACN system’s proven ability to enhance situational awareness, improve warfighter safety and deliver open communications capabilities for a wide range of missions,” Roshan Roeder, vice president, communications, airborne sensors and networks division at Northrop Grumman, said.

“BACN is one of the first battle-tested gateway systems to enable warfighters and platforms to effectively communicate and securely share data across all branches of the Department of Defense.”

Northrop’s BACN system is a high-altitude, airborne communications gateway, designed to translate and distribute imagery, voice and tactical data from disparate elements, in a bid to enhance situational awareness communications and co-ordination for joint warfighters operating across space, air, land and sea.

BACN has been deployed for airdrop, convoy, humanitarian, close air support, and theatre air control systems operations.

Northrop Grumman has accelerated development of its BACN gateway system onto both manned and unmanned aircraft, in response to a joint urgent operational need.

The prime has also made improvements to the BACN, which include enhancing data rates by 10 times, integrating new automation software to streamline communications and improve situational awareness, and implementing new military standard communications protocols.

The BACN system is currently deployed on four EQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems and three E-11A modified business jet aircraft.

Northrop Grumman has invested in the development of low size, weight and power gateway systems, designed to enable communications and cross domain translations between multiple beyond line-of-sight and line-of-sight networks and datalinks — inclusive of fifth- to fourth-generation capabilities.

This involves a focus on multi-level secure and integrated functions such as cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, next-generation data links and the use of third-party software and sensor solutions.

 [Related: Northrop Grumman, Chief Information Officer Group prepare for Triton Arrival]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

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