The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a $47.2 million contract for the purchase and integration of two more Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) payloads on two existing Block 20 Global Hawk UASs.
BACN is a high-altitude, airborne communications and information gateway system that maintains operational communications support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The persistent connectivity that BACN provides improves situational awareness and enables better coordination between forward-edge warfighters and commanders. BACN bridges and extends voice communications and battlespace awareness information from numerous sources using a suite of computers and radio systems. After the BACN payloads have been integrated on the Block 20 Global Hawks, the aircraft will be designated as USAF EQ-4B unmanned systems.
"The addition of two more BACN systems on Global Hawks will decisively enhance the required 24/7 gateway capability," said Claude Hashem, vice president of the network communications systems business at Northrop Grumman's Information Systems sector. "The EQ-4B unmanned systems will continue to provide long endurance and unsurpassed communications persistence to our warfighters."
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the development, fielding and maintenance of the BACN system and the RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. The company was awarded the first BACN contract in April 2005 by the Air Force Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.
Northrop Grumman's work on the BACN program is managed and performed in San Diego with Global Hawk integration performed in Palmdale, Calif.