US Air Force E-11A Aircraft Crashed In Afghanistan – Iranian Revenge?

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US Air Force E-11A Aircraft Crashed In Afghanistan - Iranian Revenge?

On January 27, an E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft of the US Air Force crashed in the Taliban-controlled Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, 150 kilometers from the Afghan capital.

When the incident took place, the crashed plane was initially described as a passenger plane with up to 83 people on board. However, after Taliban-affiliated media accounts released videos from the crash site, the passenger plane version was debunked and the Pentagon confirmed that the incident happened with a US military aircraft.

The crashed E-11A (tail number 11-9358) was one of just four Bombardier Global Express Business jet aircraft purchased by the U.S. Air Force and equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).

The BACN is a communications relay and gateway system that enables real-time information flow across the battlespace between similar and dissimilar tactical data link and voice systems through relay, bridging, and data translation in line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight situations.

The BACN can allow surface and air forces to overcome communications difficulties caused by rough terrain, distance and different types of communications networks employed by different types of aircraft and equipment.

The unit cost of a single E-11A equipped with the BACN has not been officially revealed. However, it is approximately $1 billion. In January 2020, the Pentagon announced that Northrop Grumman Systems was awarded a $217.2 million modification contract to support payload equipment and services for the BACN. Work will be carried out in San Diego and at undisclosed overseas locations, with an expected completion date of January 23, 2021. The total cost of the contract after the recent modification is $570.2 million.

The crashed aircraft was assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron based at Kandahar Air Field and providing service across the CENTCOM area of operations.

All existing E-11As are deployed in Kandahar. The E-11A flies over Afghanistan constantly. It surpassed 10,000 sorties in 2017, about eight years after being initially deployed to the country.

The loss of such a high-value asset as the E-11A is a major blow to the US capabilities in the region by itself. Prior to the January 27 incident, the US had 8 aircraft equipped with the BACN: four E-11As and four unmanned EQ-4Bs which are modernized variants of the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Now, there are only 7 such aircraft capable of performing command-and-control battle management functions, communication, electronic warfare tasks, and surveillance. 12.5% of the BACN fleet was lost in a single day.

The mystery surrounding the crash is another issue. The Taliban was first to report that the incident involved a US military aircraft on January 27 and release videos and photos from the site. The movement claimed that the aircraft was shot down by a rocket and applauded “the bravery and courage” of the “men” that did this.

Reports appeared claiming that Michael D’Andrea, head of the CIA’s Iran Mission Centre and one of the persons that orchestrated the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, died in the E-11A crash, which he supposedly used as a mobile command. This story describes the E-11A crash as Iranian revenge for the actions of the United States. Nonetheless, these claims remain unconfirmed.

The US military did not comment on the supposed death of D’Andrea, but strongly denied reports that the aircraft was shot down by enemy fire. It also announced that on January 28 US forces recovered the remains of two personnel from the site, the flight data recorder and destroyed the remnants of the aircraft.

The aircraft destruction was needed to prevent high-tech equipment from falling into the hands of the Taliban. The aforementioned casualties were identified as Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, and Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30.

In general, the E-11 flies with a crew of two. So, the casualtie part of the US official version is plausible. The problem is the ability of US forces to ensure that no high-tech equipment or sensitive data leaked to the Taliban.

Images from the crash site released from the Taliban on January 27 show at least one burned body.

  • If we adopt the version that two US personnel died in the crash and US forces evacuated their bodies, it becomes evident that Taliban forces were there first and took all that they wanted. This may include BACN components that will later become accessible for third parties. Washington and mainstream media have repeatedly accused Russia and Iran of contacting the Taliban despite the fact that the US itself is in talks with the group.
  • If we imagine that US forces somehow reached the crash site first and just announced this on January 28 to trick its rivals, the question appears: to whom did the images of the body shown by the Taliban belong? In this case, reports claiming that the US is hiding some vital casualties become reasonable.

The D’Andrea death story could easily appear to be just a successful example of propaganda in the ongoing US-Iranian media and diplomatic standoff. However, the reality behind this media noise may appear even more hard-hitting with some BACN components soon appearing in the hands of key US geopolitical competitors.

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  • Karen Bartlett

    How this could be construed as “Iranian revenge” when the plane crashed in Afghanistan and the Taliban claims responsibility?

    • Rhodium 10

      A Irani Quods Special forces squad could be shot down that plane with the approval of the Taliban.

    • Ivan Freely

      I can see the Taliban be convinced by the Iranians to help them to take it down. And when the Taliban takes responsibility, it gives plausible deniability to the Iranians and it boosts morale for the Taliban forces resulting in more recruits.

    • verner

      when it comes to joining up with the enemy of your enemy, you better bet the iranians and the talibans can find a lot of common ground and the poor saps will be at the sharp end of the stick while the morons in washington is trying to engineer something like a truce for the american sheeple to enjoy.

    • Traiano Welcome

      Quite right. This line of reasoning should be applied wherever Iran is accused of acting outside it’s borders ;-)

    • Liberal guy

      Ya am thinking the some thing too

    • Liberal guy

      Zio scums creating another mystery they don’t admit defeat after all never

  • Blaubeere

    Did D’Andrea show up himself alive since then? This would destroy the rumours about hie death.

    • Selbstdenker

      No. I guess some more accidents will happen soon to get a reportable death toll for all the killed service members from the recent Iranian rocket attack.

    • verner

      they won’t say either yes or no – he’s probably gone but it would be a loss of face for the morons who thus would prefer to keep the issue off the front page – note that the us is trying to negotiate a honourable truce with the talibans so they can skedaddle back home and claim sort of victory and not an abject defeat a la vietnam. however the talibans know fully well that they have the morons by the short and curly and that they can dictate the terms of the withdrawal which the poor saps in washington dc is trying to ignore and while ignoring the talibans can do what they like and the morons spend another million of bucks for no purpose whatsoever. are they stupid – yeas sure big big way.

      • Ivan Freely

        Washington may think they’ll return home with ‘honor’ intact but their alli…err…vassals knows the truth.

    • Traiano Welcome

      Check his wikipedia page from time to time … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_D%27Andrea

    • Vitex

      He’s an odd character – a Muslim who’s a big wheel with the CIA. You wonder how that would sit with his handlers – or maybe it’s just part of the narrative?

  • Z.P.

    Oliver Stone: United States is ‘the Evil Empire’
    “What Reagan said about Russia is true about us.”
    https://sputniknews.com/us/202001311078189951-oliver-stone-united-states-is-the-evil-empire/

    • Kananda

      1st this will not negate reagan´s words

      2nd olivet stone says, 350 000 000+ inhabitants not

      3rd oliver stone did not go in prison for his words. in russia when somebody wpuld tell such sentence, wuld be already arrested.

      • opereta

        Total Financial Hell started with the Imbecile Reagan and the Morons who believed in the Space Shield Bullshit.

      • Lupus

        That doesnt mean Stone aint right

        • Kananda

          sure, usa is also evil country. no doubt.

      • verner

        idiot

      • Z.P.

        1st.Oliver Stone just did exactly that in interview to Russian Sputnik!
        And he is Oliver Stone and you are NATO troll PoS !

        2nd. United States is ‘the Evil Empire’

        3rd. You obviously never listen, read “Echo of Moscow” or similar anti-Russian media in Russia

        4th you are pathetic NATO troll

  • Free man

    NO.
    This is a ridiculous question which shows the helplessness of the mullahs regime.

    • opereta

      More ridiculous is your Wishful Thinking….What is it, 17 or 19 years in the Stan….20 or 30 years trying to defeat Iran ???? Helplessness inhabits not the Land of the Mullahs certainly.

      • Free man

        You try to deflect.
        When the mullahs regime implies its responsibility for events unrelated to it in reality. It shows how helpless they are in practice.

  • Traiano Welcome

    The Taliban never claimed they shot it down.
    The Americans say it wasn’t shot down.
    The Iranians never claimed anything.

    If everyone is telling the truth, then I suppose it just decided to fall out of the sky.

    Maybe Bombardier makes bad hardware that falls apart in mid sky for no apparent reason …

    Maybe it just gave up on life and decided it wasn’t worth flying anymore …

    • opereta

      The Taliban did claim they shoot down the spy plane ……and in fact, they released the news first,

      • Traiano Welcome

        There was much debate about how to interpret the Pashto Dari phrases the Taliban used. I myself have no understanding of Pashto. There is so much confusion over what they really said that for now I’m taking it as they’re not explicitly claiming that.

        Of course, better information could change my mind …

  • Hide Behind

    It is unlikely that the Taliban have the
    required expertise to unravel what and what not to take from the craft, let alone unravel its data, first hint is their not taking the black box itself.
    The Black box will still transmit its position for many hours after plane crashing, and keeps recording any interruptions of its
    data stream.
    It also records GPS of launch and flight records of where it was landing, and voice recordings of operational crew.
    Very well protected but still a readily accessible container pod.
    In other words, a very valuable item.
    Moving an anti air missle with capabilities to hit this aircraft, frm Iran or Pakistan would be a major undertaking.
    Planes height it normally flies, its area of coverage is quite large due to that height, and one equipped with its own missle tracking and missle defense weaponry rules out any shoulder fired missle or smaller than semi transport.
    Not saying it was not possible but odds of
    having one in exactly right spot at right instance are quite high, as these planes never fly on same patterns, always differing.
    Taliban would find a ready market for items taken, but that market is most singuarly alone to be Iran buyers.
    Russia and China.have own planes as capable as these and could and would get any info Iran could get anyways.
    Do not see any real Staff Comander being aboard on what would be a routine mission, one where he could be sitting in an air conditioned office watching screen in comfort.
    Number of high ranking officers, even in petty clerk jobs, in todays US military is unbelievably higher ratio to enlisted members numbers than compared to past years; where there are more Bird Colnels than teal Eagles flying in US Canada and Mexico.
    The fog of war today is thick enough you cannot cut it with a machette, so finding truth may never come to pass.

    • opereta

      Don’t down play the Taliban expertise…..If you know anything about the Taliban, is that despite all the CIA / US / NATO might and expertise, they keep defeating all the shit they trow in their path, and have done so for years.

    • Selbstdenker

      If the plane was flying as high as it was reported, the easiest way to get more info about its flight path, direction and origin would be to ask Iran. Their long range radar systems cover Afghanistan, and is able to track any flight there.

    • JerryDrake

      You do not need to be expert to take anything that looks valuable – take and run to safety, and when you are at safe start analyzing what you have.

  • Pave Way IV

    “However, the reality behind this media noise may appear even more hard-hitting with some BACN components soon appearing in the hands of key US geopolitical competitors.”

    First rule of any news of American regime change or counter-insurgency operations: all sides lie about everything. U.S. immorality does not mean the Taliban or anyone else has less incentive to lie in the MSM or on social media – it’s just another battlefield.

    A substantial amount of the E-11A BACN equipment is in a giant pod underneath the fuselage. In an impact hard enough to rip the wings off, I’m just guessing that pod stuff got pancaked. Even then, you’re just talking the usual comm snooping and relay stuff. It’s hardly a secret today. Comms are not encrypted with hardware keys anymore, so even if someone retrieved enough to examine, it ‘might’ reveal the keys used that particular day.

    It seems the aircraft was under some control when it ‘landed’ (gear down, shiny side up, slides along line of flight). The pilot had plenty of time to hit the ‘burn everything’ button made for just such an event, and was obviously not able to turn it off after the ‘landing’. The pilots also had time to report their situation, so I damn well hope SOCOM showed up quickly for personnel / equipment recovery and torching.

    While the E-11 may have came down in ‘Taliban-controlled’ territory, it does not mean one Taliban per quarter square kilometer diligently standing guard, observing the terrain. Some goat herder probably got their first (without a fire extinguisher) and wasn’t well versed in current cryptological or EW equipment. I have to wonder how long it took for someone to tell the Taliban and then for them to even get there – on foot mostly, by the looks of it.

    Iran? D’Andrea? FFS, how does one even present an argument against such improbability? It has ZERO contribution to Iranian interests if they don’t claim to have done so or showed how their newest, unheard-of MANPADS can take out an aircraft known to operate at 40,000 ft. The Israeli Iran-hater playbook the US uses is getting old and predictable. That’s probably the only reason the US didn’t blame the accident on China or Russia.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6bf85f86863a834753f04e46edc34a214b161e56d577ad4ac889b15c53cc6f44.jpg

    • Ivan Freely

      What is your thoughts on this crash being a maintenance issue? Everybody knows the US is financially bankrupt so it wouldn’t surprise me to read that parts were not there for the ground crew to properly maintain the aircraft.

      • Luke Hemmming

        It could have well been a mechanical failure too.

      • Pave Way IV

        This was a USAF aircraft with experienced USAF pilots, Ivan. They are not going to knowingly fly an unsafe aircraft on a stupid-assed routine BACN mission over Taliban territory, nor are ground maintenance crews going to ‘hide’ serious maintenance issues from the aircraft crew. I would expect as much out of any professional Russian military pilots and their ground crews.

        It’s pointless to speculate on maintenance issues when we don’t even know what brought the aircraft down. And the US will never ‘go bankrupt’ as long as we can keep 1) printing USD, and 2) enough suckers keep believing USD has any real value. Besides, some important US defense contractor has yacht payments. There’s no way they’ll allow the USAF to skimp on maintenance with ‘their’ parts (= crappy, marked-up aircraft parts from China.with a US defense contractor’s label).

      • Tommy Jensen

        Even some birds could have done it.

        • Ivan Freely

          Plausible. But, we’ll need to know at what altitude did things go sideways and what birds frequent that area.

  • cynic

    One Nazgul down?

  • cechas vodobenikov

    finally amerikans admit their incompetence—something obvious…. the Taliban contests more territory now than 10 years ago…..hated everywhere, amerikans r becoming more fearful, anxious and stupefied…..recently visiting friends in the US I was introduced to an amerikan academic who has lived in Russia for the past 2 years—I asked him about the culture shock upon returning. He replied, “Americans are hyperactive morons”…of course, psychoanalytically anxiety is fear. As the amerikan anthropologist Thomas de Zengodita recently wrote, “busy busy numb…amerikans cannot feel themselves alive unless they feel themselves busy. America is a vast goo of meaningless stimulation”…..as Zygmunt Bauman demonstrates—“speed obliterates the capacity to think”….a nation of pitiful puritans, sexually repressed—except for sex w cell phones….