Communications in Multi-Domain Operations: What Does the BACN Bring?

Communications are an important element of any military operation. A lack of infrastructure and rough terrain have hindered U.S. military operations in Afghanistan (2001-Present) and Iraq (2003-Present). The difficulties encountered in both countries initially led to several different ad hoc solutions for overcoming poor communications. Eventually a long-term solution emerged, known as BACN (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node) with two dedicated platforms, an E-11A and EQ-4B. This article provides new insights on the BACN program and its history, and considers the importance of E-11s providing BACN for future multi-domain warfighting environments. Finally, it encourages new ways of thinking on how to operate in a contested environment, proposing a “BACN-mesh” concept as a way of overcoming such a vulnerability with an adversary jamming the electromagnetic spectrum.

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