Friday, 1 May 2009

Global Express 'mystery aircraft' deployed to Afghanistan

Another prototype deploys to Afghanistan. opswarfare recently twitted about a mysterious UAV operating in Afghanistan.

Extracts from the full article on page 7 of the magazine (via Zinio)
Launched circa 2004, Northrop Grumman's BACN is described as being an Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications relay and information server that links radios and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems for US Department of Defense networks.

BACN extends the range of line-of-sight radios, while its 'forward-edge tactical server', as Northrop Grumman terms it, provides real-time access to situation awareness, surveillance, imagery and network management information for air- and ground-based units.

BACN is controlled from the ground and its airborne processor manages ad-hoc IP networks together with bridging tactical data and voice networks.
The practice of testing prototypes in actual warzones is relatively rare. These 2 instances could be an indication that
  1. the Western forces operating in theatre feel that they have complete air supremacy (and so there is no danger of these precious prototypes being shot down), or
  2. the utility provided by these prototypes are so useful (or perhaps even critical) that it is worth it to deploy them to a warzone.
Anyway, these are good signs of a conscious attempt to fast-track the procurement of new platforms.

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