Northrop Grumman has received two contract modifications from the US Air Force (USAF) to continue operation and maintenance of the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) system in support of overseas contingency missions.
The new $156m extension follows the $106m contract modification previously secured by the company to extend the deployment and operation of BACN payloads, which are integrated in three E-11A Bombardier Global Express BD-700 aircraft and three EQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Northrop Grumman network communications systems vice president Claude Hashem said: "BACN is making a tremendous difference for our warfighters. These awards are evidence of that invaluable support and the exceptional performance of the BACN programme office."
Operations under the new contract will continue into June 2013, with Northrop also receiving a $50m contract extension for platform maintenance support of three E-11A aircraft in February 2013.
Equipped with an airborne executive processor (AEP), the high-altitude BACN is a forward-deployed network-centric enterprise information server, developed to enable data sharing between different battlefield communications systems using a suite of computers and radio systems.
The system also provides an advanced airborne communications capability to commanders and war fighters, apart from enhancing situational awareness and extending voice communications.
BACN was first deployed by the USAF to Afghanistan in support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in 2008.
Northrop serves as prime contractor for the EQ-4B Global Hawk UAV and the development, fielding and maintenance of the BACN system, and received the first BACN contract US Air Force Electronic Systems Center in April 2005.
Image: A USAF's RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV conducting non-military mapping missions. Photo: courtesy of U.S. Air Force photo by Bobbi Zapka.