A USAF Bombardier E-11A BACN reportedly crashed in Taliban territory in Afghanistan on Monday morning. Images transmitted from the Taliban in Dih Yak, Ghazni appeared to show the remains of the aircraft with the USAF logo visible on the sides. It is unclear if the plane was shot down or had a malfunction.
Defense officials say there were only TWO crew members on board the aircraft, which contradicts the Taliban claim. Their bodies have been recovered. Names will not be released until next of kin have been notified.
First reports stated it was a passenger plane belonging to Ariana Afghan Airlines, but the company denied the report. Further scrutiny when pictures were released made it clear that the plane was of US origin.
Wreck of plane crashed today in Afghanistan looks like to be a USAF Bombardier Global 6000 / E-11A "BACN" (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node)
Four U.S. E-11As are assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron and operate usually from Kandahar AB. pic.twitter.com/Uu4zrM8BAH
— Harry Boone (@towersight) January 27, 2020
— FJ (@Natsecjeff) January 27, 2020
— Aleph א (@no_itsmyturn) January 27, 2020
The Taliban stated that two were killed in the crash, but two others escaped. They were said to be combing the area looking for the survivors. The Taliban reported that the crash site was about 6.2 miles from a US base in the area. Ghazni province is mostly controlled by the Taliban, and they control the area of the crash site.They deployed to search the local village to see if they could locate the survivors.
The Aviationist reported,
“The US Air Force has four E-11A (Bombardier Global 6000 advanced ultra long-range business jets that have been modified by the U.S. Air Force to accomodate Battlefield Airborne Communications Node payload) assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron operating out of Kandahar Airfield.
These aircraft can be regularly tracked by means of ADS-B/Mode-S as they operate over Afghanistan.”
“The so-called Battlefield Airborne Communications Node can be carried on unmanned or crewed aircraft like the E-11A. It is used by the military to extend the range of radio signals and can be used to convert the output of one device to another, such as connecting a radio to a telephone.
Colloquially referred to by the U.S. military as “Wi-Fi in the sky,” the BACN system is used in areas where communications are otherwise difficult, elevating signals above obstacles like mountains. The system is in regular use in Afghanistan.”
US Central Command spokesperson Maj Beth Riordan had no comment on the Taliban claims, only that she confirmed that a US plane had crashed.
When more information is available, we will update this story.
Featured photo: A USAF E-11A on the ground at Kandahar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier). In the box a screenshot from the crash site. (The Aviationist)