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Building Bridges Out of BACN: How Northrop’s BACN Unites the Military

Written by on Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Communicating with another person is easy. See? I’m doing it right now. You could send somebody an e-mail, call them on the phone, carve hieroglyphics into a rock, use smoke signals, or try any other form of communication you like. The human brain is excellent at deciphering signals and analyzing information.

We’ve brought technology up to the point that it can do roughly the same thing. Have you ever tried out iPhone’s Siri? It (or should I say “she?”) can recognize words with impressive accuracy. We’ve also got pieces of technology that can read handwriting, decipher computer code, and analyze radio waves. The only problem is that we don’t have a machine that can do all of these things. While humans can decipher multiple pieces of information at once, designing a computer who can withstand that type of diversity is virtually impossible.

Combine that with the fact that not all drones and systems are designed by the same manufacturer, and you’ve got a network of devices that are excellent at gathering information, but can’t share that information if their lives depend on it. What good is having air support if a ground unit’s radio or telephone has to go through 10 different steps just to make it to the cockpit? How is a commander supposed to get the information he needs when it’s spread out across five different mediums?

That’s where BACN comes in, because, as we all know, how to buy antibiotics in mexico BACN makes everything better. The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, developed by Northrop Grumman, is a set of Bombadier business jets and RQ-4 drones that fly over the battlefield. Rather than carrying bombs and bullets, however, they carry a network of data processors that open up communication channels. As Defense Industry Daily explains it, BACN uses internet protocols to “extend communications ranges, bridges between radio frequencies and ‘translates’ among incompatible communications systems – including both tactical and civil cellular systems.”

Have you ever driven to a place where your cell phone no longer gets reception? BACN is a bit like strapping cell phone towers to a plane, except that it also allows you to use your phone to send emails to your buddy, who doesn’t have access to a phone. No matter where on Earth the US military needs communication to go smoothly, BACN planes can soar overhead and widen the channels of communication between aircraft, ground troops, data centers, and commanders.

BACN may not seem particularly revolutionary. After all, it doesn’t help us learn anything new and it doesn’t blow stuff up, but it does help unite our information together into a more cohesive whole. If the old phrase, “Together we stand; divided we fall” holds any merit, then linking disparate components of the military can literally win battles and save lives.

If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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