BACN program seeks new Bombardier Global 6000

By Rachel Cohen / October 18, 2018 at 11:02 AM

The Air Force needs another Bombardier business jet to bolster the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node fleet, the service said in an Oct. 15 notice.

The BACN program office seeks one new, "green" Bombardier Global 6000 outfitted with specialized antennas, radios, flight-tracker inhibition system and more. The jet would be the fifth of its kind in the fleet, which would grow to nine total aircraft.

BACN-equipped G6000 aircraft, dubbed the E-11A, are manned counterparts to the EQ-4B, a modified version of Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk. The platforms use beyond-line-of-sight communications systems to connect air and ground assets in combat areas, primarily in the Middle East.

Inside Defense previously reported the Air Force was looking at growing the E-11A fleet but lacked a procurement plan. Though the service didn't ask for additional BACN aircraft in its fiscal year 2019 budget request, Congress offered the program another $100 million.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) has noted there aren't enough EQ-4Bs to meet the Air Force's communications needs and warned of looming service-life issues.