The US Air Force (USAF) has received the Global Hawk autonomous surveillance aircraft carrying the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).
Developed by Northrop Grumman, BACN is a high-altitude aircraft that translates and distributes voice communications and other battlespace information from a wide number of sources.
BACN is used to bridge the gaps between the systems in addition to extending communications among different users and networks. This will help provide improved situational awareness to the USAF fleet.
When combined with the Global Hawk autonomous aircraft, BACN provides troops with important information to pursue and defeat the enemy.
The airborne communications node features an airborne executive processor (AEP) that allows for a persistent gateway in the sky that receives, bridges and distributes communication among all troops on a battlefield.
To date, more than 10,000 combat missions have been carried out by BACN that helped connect troops in the air with ground forces.
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Northrop’s Global Hawk aircraft are capable of operating at altitudes of up to 60,000ft for more than 30 hours, surveying thousands of square miles on a single mission.
The unmanned system carries a number of sensor payloads that enable military commanders to collect near real-time imagery and use radar to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground.
In addition, the aircraft provides airborne communications and data sharing capabilities to military units in challenging environments.
In July 2016, the Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance intelligence gathering aircraft surpassed 200,000 flight hours.