A Gulfstream II business jet heavily modified as an airborne communications relay testbed has arrived in Australia.
The aircraft, registered N510AG to Lowcountry Trading, features Tempus Applied Solutions and Northrop Grumman logos on its tail and forward fuselage. It arrived in Brisbane on February 24 and is pictured here parked outside Northrop Grumman Australia’s Integrated Defence Services hangar at Brisbane Airport on the weekend.
The Gulfstream sports a large satcom antenna on its upper fuselage and was originally modified as a demonstrator for use by Northrop Grumman for the Multi-Role Tactical Common Data Link program, which, according to a Northrop Grumman January 2011 media statement, “provides real-time networking connectivity to warfighters and commanders by enabling extremely fast exchange of data via ground, airborne and satellite networks”.
The Multi-Role Tactical Common Data Link has since been integrated as an element of the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN). Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the BACN program where four modified Bombardier Global Express business jet platforms (designated E-11A) and three unmanned EQ-4B Global Hawks are used as airborne relay nodes to translate and distribute “imagery, video, voice and data, often from disparate elements, improving situational awareness by allowing ground troops to reach back for needed support over mountainous terrain”, according a US Air Force press release.
BACN has been used operationally over Afghanistan, first with the E-11A and then with the EQ-4B, since 2008.
Flight tracking website flightaware.com shows the Gulfstream flew from Brisbane to RAAF Base Amberley early on Tuesday afternoon.