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​The Air Force recently awarded a $120 million contract extending its EQ-4B and E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) platforms through June 2016. The service is looking to further lengthen the mixed fleet's deployment in support of combat operations in Southwest Asia through January 2017, according to officials at Hanscom AFB, Mass. "BACN operates on a continuous cycle and is constantly in high demand. It still remains a vital necessity for our warfighters," BACN program manager Lt. Col. Guy Spencer said in a release. "BACN aircraft play a vital role in overseas operations, and the recent contract award ensures a much needed capability remains in theater," he added. BACN enables ground forces to communicate and pass data in rugged terrain, such as Afghanistan, and is currently flown on a combined fleet of four Bombardier E-11A aircraft, and three EQ-4B Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. The BACN program office is currently weighing long-term options to acquire the fleet beyond the 2017 extension, according to the release.