The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) is a communications relay and gateway system that enables real-time information flow across the battlespace between similar and dissimilar tactical data link and voice systems through relay, bridging, and data translation in line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight situations.
The BACN can allow surface and air forces to overcome communications difficulties caused by rough terrain, distance and different types of communications networks employed by different types of aircraft and equipment.
The unit cost of a single E-11A equipped with the BACN has not been officially revealed. However, it is approximately $1 billion. In January 2020, the Pentagon announced that Northrop Grumman Systems was awarded a $217.2 million modification contract to support payload equipment and services for the BACN. Work will be carried out in San Diego and at undisclosed overseas locations, with an expected completion date of January 23, 2021. The total cost of the contract after the recent modification is $570.2 million.