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17 October 2014 Demonstration of high-rate laser communications from fast airborne platform: flight campaign and results
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Some current and future airborne payloads like high resolution cameras and radar systems need high channel capacity to transmit their data from air to ground in near real-time. Especially in reconnaissance and surveillance missions, it is important to downlink huge amount of data in very short contact times to a ground station during a flyby. Aeronautical laser communications can supply the necessary high data-rates for this purpose. Within the project DODfast (Demonstration of Optical Data link fast) a laser link from a fast flying platform was demonstrated. The flight platform was a Panavia Tornado with the laser communication terminal installed in an attached avionic demonstrator pod. The air interface was a small glass dome protecting the beam steering assembly. All other elements were integrated in a small box inside the Pod’s fuselage. The receiver station was DLR’s Transportable Optical Ground Station equipped with a free-space receiver front-end. Downlink wavelength for communication and uplink wavelength for beacon laser were chosen from the optical C-band DWDM grid. The test flights were carried out at the end of November 2013 near the Airbus Defence and Space location in Manching, Germany. The campaign successfully demonstrated the maturity and readiness of laser communication with a data-rate of 1.25 Gbit/s for aircraft downlinks. Pointing, acquisition and tracking performance of the airborne terminal and the ground station could be measured at aircraft speed up to 0.7 Mach and video data from an onboard camera has been transmitted. Link distances with stable tracking were up to 79 km and distance with data transmission over 50 km. In this paper, we describe the system architecture, the flight campaign and the results.
© (2014) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Florian Moll, Wolfgang Mitzkus, Joachim Horwath, Amita Shrestha, Martin Brechtelsbauer, Luis Martin, Alberto Lozano, and Dionisio Diaz Gonzalez "Demonstration of high-rate laser communications from fast airborne platform: flight campaign and results", Proc. SPIE 9248, Unmanned/Unattended Sensors and Sensor Networks X, 92480R (17 October 2014);

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