Bombardier handed over the first Global 6000 modified for the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) program under an order announced in June 2021. Valued at up to $465 million, that contract was a follow-on to earlier agreements under which the company had delivered four Globals for the BACN program.
The June 2021 agreement included one firm order and five options. Since then, the USAF upped the firm orders and Bombardier has two more deliveries planned through 2023, with additional aircraft possible through 2025.
Bombardier delivered the aircraft through its recently rebranded defense division along with its U.S. subsidiary Learjet, which remains its operating company in Wichita. The contract is a foundation for Bombardier’s strategic expansion of its defense business, particularly as it is able to build up its resources and facilities in the former Learjet production hangars.
“The defense sector is a key pillar of Bombardier’s future as our ultra-reliable and high-performing platforms are best suited to house and operate complex mission equipment,” said Bombardier president and CEO Éric Martel. “This delivery is a milestone, first of its kind since appointing Wichita as the home base for Bombardier Defense.”
Referred to as the E-11A fleet, the BACN-equipped Globals serve as communications gateways that bridge and or relay voice and data between air and surfaces. “The BACN program reduces communication issues associated with incompatible systems, adverse terrain, and distance. BACN increases interoperability, which results in forces that execute faster, more reliably, and with less risk to the warfighter,” said USAF Lt. Col Eric Inkenbrandt. “The delivery of 21-9045 is the pivotal first step to advancing the mission this program provides.”
Engineers and technicians at Bombardier Defense in Wichita performed the complex engineering and modification work on green Global 6000 aircraft to support the BACN program and teams at its Tucson, Arizona facility completed the interiors and paint.
Bombardier noted that more than 550 Global, Challenger, and Learjet special-mission aircraft are in use worldwide.