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Bombardier aircraft

Northrop Grumman has received a contract modification from the US Air Force (USAF) to integrate beyond-line-of-sight command and control (BLOS C2) capabilities into the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) gateway system.

Awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), the $20m contract extension aims to provide soldiers with access to full-motion video, imagery, voice over internet protocol l (VoIP) and chat messages from multiple sources.

Under the contract, the company will install a multi-role tactical common data link (MR-TCDL) and related control terminals into the BACN suite of computers and radio systems of a E-11A Bombardier Global Express BD-700 aircraft.

Northrop Grumman will also provide support for the government-sponsored BLOS C2 developmental and operational testing programme.

The BLOS C2 initiative is designed to enhance the US Central Command’s (USCENTCOM) effort to provide universal situational awareness by establishing a high-bandwidth, internet protocol (IP) based-network in the battlefield.

The network is expected to support efficient transmission of real-time full-motion video (FMV) and collaborative command and control (C2) through VoIP, chat, and images, between ground-based and airborne platforms.

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Equipped with an airborne executive processor (AEP), the BACN is a high-altitude, forward-deployed network-centric enterprise information server designed to enable data sharing between different battlefield communications systems using a suite of computers and radio systems.

Northrop will serve as the prime contractor for the development, fielding and maintenance of the BACN system, and received its first BACN contract in April 2005.

Installation work under the contract is scheduled to complete by 30 June 2013.

Image: a Bombardier Global Express aircraft taking off from London Luton Airport in England. Photo: courtesy of Arpingstone.