Air Force E-11A That Crashed in Afghanistan Known as "Flying Wi-Fi"
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By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven
(Washington, D.C.) An Air Force statement is confirming that the plane that crashed in Afghanistan was a U.S. Air Force E-11A communications and electronic warfare plane.
“A U.S. Bombardier E-11A crashed today in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. While the cause of the crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire,” Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesman for U.S. Forces Afghanistan said in a Jan. 27 statement.
The Air Force’s E-11A surveillance plane can identify enemy ground forces, network with units advancing in combat, jam enemy communications with electronic attack and function as a vital “wifi” node in the sky -- key mission functions described in various Air Force reports.
It operates with what the Air Force calls Battlefield Airborne Communications Node payload, an integrated technical system which uses advanced sensors and EW to relay information and perform life-saving missions in war.
The plane, a militarized version of a Bombardier Global Express business aircraft, has been based at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan; Air Force reports explain that the aircraft brings a particular value to the mountainous areas of Afghanistan, as ground units are often separated by rigorous terrain and without line-of-sight communications networks. The planes operate in support of Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadrons (EECS).
Technically speaking, an airborne node can function as a flying aerial connector between ground communications and command and control systems. A radio frequency emission which might otherwise bounce off a mountain side can instead be networked to an airborne E-11A and reach nearby ground units or a combat headquarters.
BACN is “like Wi-Fii in the sky,” Capt. Jacob Breth, 430th EECS pilot, said in a Nov. 18, 2018 Air Force report.
The BACN was developed in direct response to the well known Operation Red Wings, the famous tragic operation in Afghanistan which formed the basis of the “Lone Survivor” movie. The movie depicts the real life story of a group of Navy SEALs who, due to communication failure while on patrol, wound up isolated and overwhelmed by massive amounts of Taliban attackers. Marcus Luttrell, author of a book on the incident, is well known as the Lone Survivor.
Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition, Logistics& Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.