E-11A Fleet Completes 3,000th Sortie in Afghanistan

The Air Force’s small fleet of Battlefield Airborne Communications Node-equipped E-11A jets flew its 3,000th sortie from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in direct support of coalition forces in that nation. “It’s a great honor and feeling of satisfaction knowing our missions have such a significant impact supporting the ground and air forces in theater,” said Lt. Col. Paul Bedesem, an E-11A pilot with Kandahar’s 451st Tactical Airborne Gateway, in commenting on the milestone sortie on July 14. Airmen and contractors of the 451st TAG operate the E-11As as overhead communications relays to help ground troops overcome the communications limitations imposed by Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain. The modified Bombardier BD-700 business jets augment the Air Force’s BACN-outfitted EQ-4B Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. The 451st TAG reached 3,000 sorties in less than four years of operating in theater, according to the unit’s July 18 release. (Kandahar report by Alexandra Hendrickson)