Laser communications (Lasercomm) systems have gained increasing interest for both defense and commercial applications due to their ability to provide secure, long-distance, high-bandwidth communications on the move, without the need for RF spectrum management. This paper will present field test results from the U.S. Navy’s Trident Warrior 2017 fleet exercise, where a compact Lasercomm system was evaluated. As compared to previously demonstrated long range Lasercomm terminals, this compact terminal design leverages simultaneous transmit and receive spatial diversity to mitigate scintillation fades in a smaller form factor. In addition, a 10 Gbps retransmission capability has been integrated and tested to assure error-free data transport even through short duration path blockages and optical fades. The system was operated at full functionality over seven test days with network traffic loads ranging from 1 - 7.5 Gbps in bidirectional configurations. The system was exercised to a line of sight limited range of 45 km and showed capability through haze and even some levels of fog on multiple days.
Lasercomm technology continues to be of interest for many applications both in the commercial and defense sectors because of its potential to provide high bandwidth communications that are secure without the need for RF spectrum management. Over the last decade, terrestrial Lasercomm development has progressed from initial experiments in the lab through field demonstrations in airborne and maritime environments. While these demonstrations have shown high capability levels, the complexity, size, weight, and power of the systems has slowed transition into fielded systems. This paper presents field test results of a recently developed maritime Lasercomm terminal and modem architecture with a compact form factor for enabling robust, 10-Gbps class data transport over highly scintillated links as found in terrestrial applications such as air-to-air, air-to-surface, and surface-to-surface links.
In recent years, various terrestrial free-space optical (FSO) communications systems have been demonstrated to achieve high-bandwidth communications between mobile platforms. The terminal architectures fall into three general categories: (1) single aperture systems with tip/tilt control, (2) multi-aperture system with tip/tilt control, and (3) single aperture systems with tip/tilt control and higher order adaptive optics correction. Terrestrial modem approaches generally use direct detection receivers because they provide high bandwidth capability (0.1-10 Gbps) without the complexity of coherent detection. Modems are often augmented with a mix of forward error correction (FEC), interleaving, and/or retransmission for improved data transport. This paper will present a terminal and modem architecture for a low-SWAP FSO communications system that enables robust, high-bandwidth communications under highly scintillated links as found in terrestrial applications such as air-to-air, air-to-surface, and surface-to-surface links.