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E-11A Aircraft play key role during humanitarian airdrops in Gaza

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alondra Cristobal Hernandez
  • 378th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The E-11A Aircraft equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communication Node, assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, has played a mission critical role in facilitating humanitarian airdrops in Gaza since early March 2024.

The BACN acts as a communication relay and gateway system, facilitating information exchange and enhancing operations' versatility and effectiveness. 

Originally designed for Afghanistan, the E-11 and BACN are utilized for their theater-wide communication and data link extension capabilities. Since then, they have undergone consistent technological advancements to adapt to current challenges.

"Initially, the BACN was created in response to a need for an airborne gateway that could support a variety of communication protocols," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. R. Clayton McCart, 430th EECS commander. "The request was to be mounted on an assortment of aircraft and the ability to move around the battlespace for versatility."

As the E-11 was repurposed post-Afghanistan, it has now been providing behind-the-scenes support to U.S. partners & allies facilitating airdrops in Gaza.

The BACN ensured mission success by consolidating critical data from different sources for seamless coordination. Since March 2024, the E-11 has aided humanitarian assistance in Gaza by ensuring all air assets deliver aid promptly, totaling more than 2.3 million pounds. 

"There's no uncertainty, just new challenges," said McCart. "Many lessons were learned and modifications made to the mission in that time to carry those lessons forward and to other local geographic locations, to where we've refined the process to a science to be most effective to our package players and coalition partners and their mission demands."

Meanwhile, the E-11 platform is establishing a new, permanent home at Robins Air Force Base by 2027 to allow for further growth and development. 

The newly established 18th Airborne Command Control Squadron will serve as a more permanent capability for the E-11 and BACN, allowing progress through training new tactics, utilizing existing expertise and preparing for operations in various areas of responsibility.

As the E-11 transitions to a more traditional home station and deployment model, its mission will remain focused on enabling dynamic operations wherever necessary.

“The E-11 is one of those platforms that most people don’t know a lot about,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Seth Spanier, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “But it’s absolutely essential to everything we do. They touch every major operation in theater and are a lynchpin to mission success.”