US Air Force to Demonstrate Air-to-Space Laser Communication Feasibility

Released on Thursday, August 19, 2004
United States of America
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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