The US Air Force has selected four prime contractors to design, build and
demonstrate a prototype optical aperture system that will enable laser
communications between aircraft and space-based platforms.
The Airborne Lasercom Terminal will mature technology prior to a separately
awarded terminal development effort. The laser-based communications has the
potential to bring more data to the final user at much higher speeds/transfer
rates than current available radiofrequency-based communication systems.
The lasercom approach also provides secure communications and might reduce size,
weight, and power requirements of air-to-space communications doing so at a
lower cost as well as providing higher bandwidth. This demonstration program
could lead to a truly transformational military communications system.
Northrop-Grumman has been selected along with other three prime contractors to
demonstrate aperture technologies. Northrop-Grumman team includes OPTRA Inc., of
Topsfield, Massachusetts, which will provide the coarse-beam steering subsystem,
and AOptix Technologies Inc., of Campbell, California.
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