Air Force E-11A Networking Plane Has Crashed in Afghanistan, Top General Confirms

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This photo provided by Tariq Ghazniwal shows an aircraft that crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Jan. 27, 2020.
This photo provided by Tariq Ghazniwal shows an aircraft that crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Jan. 27, 2020. (Tariq Ghazniwal via AP)

The chief of staff of the Air Force has confirmed reports from the Taliban that a U.S. military aircraft crashed in Afghanistan earlier Monday.

Speaking to a group at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, Gen. David Goldfein said the plane that went down was an Air Force E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, aircraft.

According to earlier reports, the plane crashed in Ghazni province to the east. Ghazni has been under majority Taliban control since 2015, shortly after U.S. combat forces formally drew down in Afghanistan.

Local journalist Tariq Ghazniwal reported that the crash took place about 10 kilometers, or 6 miles, outside of an unspecified U.S. military base, according to an Associated Press report. It's not yet clear how many were aboard or if any casualties were sustained.

"It appears we have lost an aircraft. We don't know the status of the crew," Goldfein said, adding the Central Command officials are in contact with relevant parties to investigate the situation.

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Army Col. William "Sonny" Leggett confirmed on Twitter the crash was not the result of hostile fire.

"There are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire," Leggett said. "[The] Taliban claims that additional aircraft have crashed are false."

The general urged caution on initial reports coming out over social media and other outlets.

"In my experience ... first reports? Always wrong," Goldfein said.

A U.S. official told Fox News there were fewer than five people aboard the aircraft when it went down.

BACN broadcasts data to pilots flying in an increasingly contested environment, boosting their situational awareness for beyond-line-of-sight activity. Developed by Northrop Grumman, BACN is the result of a longstanding Air Force effort to bridge the gaps between tactical data links that normally would not be able to transmit information to one another.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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