Battlefield Airborne Communications Node Testing Continues

Bombardier Global Express N901GX lands at NAS North Island, CA 2/10/08
Photo: Dan Stijovich

2/20/2008 - Testing of the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) is continuing forward. During the month of February, Bombardier Global Express test aircraft N901GX has flown test sorties out of NAS North Island, CA in support of the program. The aircraft has been changed considerably since it was last seen in SoCal, near the end of 2007. It now appears to be outfitted in the Sentinel R1 configuration, including the lower radome, which would normally contain the Raytheon built Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR). 901GX was originally brought in to be used as a test bed for the BACN system in 2007, making its first flight with the equipment onboard in August of that year.

In January 2007, NASA's WB-57 #926 flew numerous test missions into the Edwards AFB range in support of BACN, while being based out of March ARB. NASA 926 was the first aircraft to have BACN technology installed, and it has been utilized in the program on and off since the beginning. The BACN system is designed to be used at high altitudes, which makes the high flying WB-57 a good choice for a flight test bed. 926 had flown earlier BACN test missions from MCAS Miramar in 2007, and it now wears numerous stickers from the various Miramar squadrons on it's nose.

NASA WB-57F #926 flying a BACN test mission from March ARB, CA 1/15/08
Photo: Dan Stijovich

The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) is a system that offers the ability to link communications of various types and modes in both data and voice form, between numerous assets on the battlefield. The system basically acts as a communications hub that allows various entities across multiple services to pass voice, text, video and other data, using equipment that might otherwise be incompatible when used directly. This system is intended to ultimately be utilized on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Both the WB-57 and Global Express test aircraft are scheduled to participate in the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment (JEFX) in early 2008, which will be based at Nellis AFB, NV.

Source: Dan Stijovich
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