Bombardier E-11A

The Bombardier E-11A  is the military variant of the civil Bombardier BD-700 Global Express aircraft for use as an overhead communications-relay platform in Southwest Asia. This aircraft carries Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, which allows disparate battlefield communications systems to share data.

Developing nation: Canada and United States of America.
Manufacturer/designer: Bombardier/Northrop Grumman.
Production Lines: Montréal, Québec Canada.
Type aircraft: Communications-relay platform.
Operator: 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit. It is assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Operations Group and stationed at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan.
Number built: 4, 11-9001, 11-9355,11-9358 and 12-9506. 2 leased, and 2 government-owned

Battlefield Airborne Communications Node

BACN was deployed on a test platform Bombardier BD-700 and originally designated as the RC-700A under the reconnaissance classification. The aircraft was later re-designated as the E-11A under the special electronics installation category. The BD-700 was selected due to its high altitude, flight duration. These flight characteristics are critical in providing unified datalink and voice networks in the mountainous terrain encountered in the current theater of operations. Additional E-11As have been deployed to increase availability and flexibility.

It provides a high-speed, Internet protocol (IP)-based airborne network infrastructure that that extends communications ranges, bridges between radio frequencies, and “translates” among incompatible communications systems – including both tactical and civil cellular systems. Using BACN, a Special Forces soldier on the ground could use a civil cell phone to speak to a fighter pilot in the cockpit.

BACN supports seamless movement of imagery, video, voice and digital messages, with support for waveforms that include SINCGARS (single-channel ground and airborne radio system), DAMA (demand assigned multiple access), EPLRS (enhanced position location reporting system), SADL (situation awareness data link), Link 16, and IP-based networking connectivity using TTN (tactical targeting network), TCDL (tactical common data link) technology, CLIP (Common Link Integration Processing), and 802.11b. Northrop Grumman’s joint translator/forwarder (JXF), originally developed for US Joint Forces Command, is to accomplish digital-message transformation.

That kind of system can be especially useful in rugged terrain that block line-of-sight communications, in combined civil/military situations, or when different services or even different countries are operating side by side in the field. Afghanistan meets all of those criteria, an so do some aspects of operations in Iraq.

BACN payloads have also been developed, installed, and operated on special variant EQ-4B Global Hawk aircraft to provide unmanned long endurance high altitude communications coverage. The combination of BACN payloads on E-11A and EQ-4 aircraft gives planners and operators flexibility to adapt to mission needs and increase coverage in the battlespace to near 24/7 operations.

Northrop Grumman is also developing BACN pods that can be temporarily mounted to various other aircraft.

Other High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) platforms are also being considered for use with BACN.

General characteristics Bombardier BD-700 Global Express

  • Crew: Two (minimum) – four (typical)
  • Capacity: 8-19 passengers
  • Length: 99 ft 5 in (30.3 m)
  • Wingspan: 94 ft 0 in (28.65 m)
  • Height: 24 ft 10 in (7.57 m)
  • Wing area: 1,022 ft² (94.9 m²)
  • Empty weight: 49,750 lb (22,600 kg)
  • Useful load: 1,775 lb w/full fuel (805 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 99,500 lb (44,500 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR710A2-20 turbofans, 14,750 lbf (65.5 kN) each
  • Cabin length: 48 ft 4 in (14.73 m)
  • Cabin max width (centerline): 8 ft 2 in (2.49 m)
  • Cabin max width (floorline): 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
  • Cabin height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
  • Cabin floor area: 335 ft² (31.1 m²)


  • Maximum speed: Mach .89 (513 kt, 590 mph, 950 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: Mach .85 (488 kt, 564 mph, 907 km/h)
  • Range: 6,325 nm (7,080 mi, 11,390 km)
  • Service ceiling: 51,000 ft (15,500 m)
  • Wing loading: 95.9 lb/ft² (468 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.301
  • Balanced field length (SL, ISA, MGTOW): 6,120 ft (1,870 m)
  • Landing distance (SL, ISA, MLW): 2,670 ft (814 m)


All pictures courtesy of Zijde Aviation Photo and Publishing, Jeroen Vogelaar