The USAF has awarded a US$3.6bn (A$4.71bn) indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract to Northrop Grumman for the ongoing development, sustainment, and support of that service’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) capability.
This contract award says it covers research, development, test and evaluation, integration, operations, and sustainment for existing and future payloads contained in or connected to the BACN system. It also covers the system’s ground stations and controls, ancillary equipment, support equipment, and system integration laboratories.
“We are honoured to work with the Air Force to continue to bring the critical gateway communications capabilities of the BACN program to U.S. warfighters operating around the world,” Northrop Grumman’s vice president and general manager, networked information solutions division, Ben Davies said in a statement. “This ID/IQ award demonstrates the commitment to the continued success of the BACN program.”
Developed by Northrop Grumman, BACN is a communications relay and gateway system that allows disparate airborne, maritime, or ground-based communications systems to exchange information, and to provide line-of-sight communications over-the-horizon or in regions with masking terrain.
Prior to being integrated with USAF RQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawks, BACN conducted a number of test deployments to the Middle East aboard a former-NASA WB-57F Canberra to develop concepts of operations for the high-flying UAS. The Global Hawks are now designated EQ-4B, while the USAF also operates three BACN-equipped E-11A which are modified Bombardier Global Express business jets.
An airborne gateway payload on a Northrop Grumman Gulfstream II airframe was demonstrated to the ADF in February and March 2017, and participated in Exercise Jericho Dawn at Puckapunyal in Victoria.