Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein confirmed an E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node crashed in Afghanistan on Jan. 27
The Air Force maintains a small presence of four E-11 aircraft at Kandahar Airfield, The aircraft operate as “Wi-Fi in the sky,” with specialized equipment that relay communications and serve as a bridge between otherwise incompatible systems. The aircraft was developed as an urgent operational need after communication shortfalls were identified during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in 2005. U.S forces destroyed the remnants of the aircraft after retrieving the service members’ bodies as well as the data recorder. The crash occurred in a Taliban-controlled area of Ghazni Province, north of Kandahar.
The aircraft are assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron at Kandahar, a geographically separated unit of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield.
BACN is essential because the terrain of Afghanistan may disrupt communications channels and it enables coalition forces to know what is around them when something is not in their line-of-sight, For example, a legacy USAF A-10 attack aircraft could loiter away from a battle area while using the BACN link to communicate with a special-forces FAC on the ground. The A-10 pilot could wait until all targeting information is ready before “un-masking” and beginning an attack run. Missions flown by the BACN platforms (E-11A assigned to 380th Air Expeditionary Wing based at Al Dhafra Air Base to support Operation Inherent Resolve) allow aircraft with incompatible radio systems and datalinks to transfer information and communicate. The U.S. military uses various datalink systems to exchange tactical information, and many are not capable of working together. For example, a U.S. Air Force F-15 can use its Link-16 system to exchange target information with a U.S. Navy F/A-18. However, the F/A-18 could not exchange information with a USAF B-52 or B-1 bomber. The advanced F-22 can connect with other Raptors via datalink but can only receive over the standard, legacy Link-16 datalink used by most allied aircraft.
This lack of compatibility between different platforms is a major obstacle in all those theaters where air assets from many services are called upon to provide support for ground troops of different nations. Additionally, the complicated joint operations required to engage a modern integrated air defense system are greatly simplified by exchanging target information via datalinks.
[January 22 2019 Second U.S. death in Afghanistan in 2019 ]
An US military service member was killed in combat in Afghanistan on January 22 2019. A number of US Special Operations Forces still conduct direct combat operations as part of its counter terrorism missions against Al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist network groups.
Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, of Spearman, Texas, died in Landstuhl, Germany. He died “as a result of injuries sustained from small arms fire during combat operations on Jan. 13 in Jawand District, Badghis Province, Afghanistan.” His death was the first U.S. death in Afghanistan in 2019.
[December 3 2018 Mullah Muhammad Rahim Akhand killed ]
An American drone strike in southern Afghanistan has killed a key Taliban military commander, Mullah Muhammad Rahim Akhand alias Maulvi Manan at the Sargardan Chowk in Orgon Bazaar of Helmand province, Afghanistan. He “came under a drone strike in Nawzad district last night … his vehicle was hit,” Helmand is the hub of the country’s massive drug trade and Manan was controlling it to generate funds for the Taliban.