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The Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman an $89.7 million contract to continue operating and supporting the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node system, according to an Aug. 6 release. BACN connects aircraft in the air and mission controllers on the ground, “[translating] and [distributing] voice communications, video, imagery, and other battlespace information from numerous, often disparate, sources to improve situational awareness and enable better coordination among warfighters and commanders,” states the release. It’s “making such a tremendous difference … that it is regarded as indispensable for mission success,” said Jeannie Hilger, Northrop Grumman’s Vice President and general manager for communications in information systems. BACN has been in use in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on four E-11A systems and three EQ-4B Global Hawks, states the release. The system “has delivered near 24/7 coverage in theater with system availability rates above 98 percent” since its deployment in 2008, it states.