The Air Force is extending an aircraft communications system contract with San Diego-based Northrop Grumman Mission Systems for an additional $217 million, bringing the total value of the deal to $570 million.
The extension was awarded Thursday, with $20 million in funds immediately obligated to provide payload operation and support for the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, a “wi-fi in the sky” communications system used exclusively in Afghanistan.
All E-11A aircraft with the technology are assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron and operate solely out of Kandahar Airfield.
Serious communications challenges exist in the region because of the country’s mountainous terrain and lack of existing communications infrastructure, according to the Air Force.
The BACN works to keep troops safe on the ground by giving pilots consistent and effective communication with command and control in nearly any location or environment.
The contract was extended for one year. Work on the sensors that make up the payload will be performed in San Diego, as well as undisclosed overseas locations, and is expected to be complete by Jan. 23, 2021.
— Staff report
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