For the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Communications Squadron “Black Wolves,” delivering communication coverage to the American warfighter, the nation’s allies and coalition partners is a primary objective.

The 430th EECS is the only unit in the U.S. Air Force that operates the E-11A aircraft with the Battlefield Airborne Communication Node or BACN payload. As such, the Black Wolves strive to provide consistent and effective communication channels for air, ground and maritime forces in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

“The 430th supports warfighters who conduct around the clock operations in the CENTCOM AOR,” said Lt. Col. Todd Arthur, the 430th EECS commander. “We supply communication coverage to ground and air forces in active combat zones, who require consistent, clear communications to higher levels of leadership and other command and control assets.”

To help keep the 430th’s fleet airborne projecting constant combat communications support, the Air Force and Air Combat Command procured a brand-new E-11A, which arrived at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia on Dec. 16, 2022.

“This new E-11A will relieve the pressure on the rest of our fleet and enable us to sustain a high mission capable rate,” Arthur said. “Having an additional aircraft will give our maintenance team another option to reliably put combat airpower into the skies.”

Essentially functioning as a low earth satellite, or “Wi-Fi in the sky,” the E-11A is used to provide extended aerial command and control capabilities to air assets and troops on the ground.

The E-11A is the only aircraft of its kind in the Air Force, and all of the pilots with the 430th EECS are all volunteers from other airframes.

“Just like America is a melting pot of other nationalities, the 430th is truly a melting pot of the Air Force,” Arthur said. “We have fighter pilots, bomber pilots, transport pilots, tanker pilots, special operations pilots, trainer pilots, test pilots, a program manager and three enlisted career fields.”