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19 May 2015 Laser links for mobile airborne nodes
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Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPA’s) and especially Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) and High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) are currently operated over long distances, often across several continents. This is only made possible by maintaining Beyond Line Of Side (BLOS) radio links between ground control stations and unmanned vehicles via geostationary (GEO) satellites. The radio links are usually operated in the Ku-frequency band and used for both, vehicle command & control (C2) - it also refers to Command and Non-Payload Communication (CNPC) - as well as transmission of intelligence data - the associated communication stream also refers to Payload Link (PL). Even though this scheme of communication is common practice today, various other issues are raised thereby. The paper shows that the current existing problems can be solved by using the latest technologies combined with altered intuitive communication strategies. In this context laser communication is discussed as a promising technology for airborne applications. It is clearly seen that for tactical reasons, as for instance RPA cooperative flying, Air-to-Air communications (A2A) is more advantageous than GEO satellite communications (SatCom). Hence, together with in-flight test results the paper presents a design for a lightweight airborne laser terminal, suitable for use onboard manned or unmanned airborne nodes. The advantages of LaserCom in combination with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) technologies particularly for Persistent Wide Area Surveillance (PWAS) are highlighted. Technical challenges for flying LaserCom terminals aboard RPA’s are outlined. The paper leads to the conclusion that by combining both, LaserCom and ISR, a new quality for an overall system arises which is more than just the sum of two separate key technologies.
© (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Wolfgang Griethe, Markus Knapek, and Joachim Horwath "Laser links for mobile airborne nodes", Proc. SPIE 9460, Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) Systems and Applications XII, 946007 (19 May 2015);

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