EACN: a culture of continual communication

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephanie Henry, 375th Air Mobility Public Affairs Office

A ceremony was hosted at the Air Force Cyberspace and Communications Heritage Center, Jan. 4, 2021, to enshrine the Executive Airlift Communications Network (EACN) and the significant efforts undertaken by a number of Air Force teams.

Born from communications deficiencies aboard Air Force One during the homeland terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001, EACN serves as a specialized government-unique Internet Service Provider. This service provides senior leaders the ability to access multiple classification levels of voice, video and data services from select aircraft while in flight.

After 9/11, there was a need to improve various in-flight communications. According to Tom Korte, HQ Cyberspace Capabilities Center technical services director, in order to update these airborne communications systems for senior leadership, Air Mobility Command took the overall lead for the project with their Communications Directorate, or AMC/A6, tasked to find a solution to this project.

Over the course of about three years, there were massive upgrades to in-flight communications to Air Force One and select other VIP aircraft supporting the senior-most leaders in the nation. These upgrades to video services, data and more proved to be a true National Command Authority in the sky. 

Since reaching full operational capability in 2007, the project has been in sustainment and modernization mode.

“I’m certainly proud of this team,” said Korte. “I used to manage my HQ CCC members and greatly appreciate the partnership in support of AMC/A6 and the technical and programmatic achievements they’ve made over the years.”

HQ CCC continues to support A6 and the EACN project, but also manages the Air Force’s only Heritage Center with a collection of Communications and Information and Air Traffic Control historical artifacts and artwork. Within the center is a 30-foot “timeline wall” of historical accomplishments covering more than 75 years across the communications and information community that extends prior to the creation of the Air Force.

Following the ceremony, a plaque now hangs forever enshrining the accomplishments of the EACN team.

“The milestones that are up there are significant in the fact that they impact us either as an entire Air Force or DoD or even nationally like EACN does,” said Daniel Williams, Cyberspace Capabilities Center historian. 

Lead the Air Force in delivering Cyberspace Capabilities to the Warfighter; that’s the HQ CCC’s mission statement and that’s exactly what the Enterprise Information Technology community continues to do.

“It has been my thought for years that EACN accomplishments certainly fit among other historical accomplishments from our community,” Korte said. “The EACN program continues today and is further expanding to support additional VIP aircraft across the DoD.”

Today, as the need for speed and reliability of communications continues to evolve, the professionals continue to provide rich network connectivity to many other aircraft using systems modeled after EACN.