Aircraft optical communications networking using free-space lasers to be demonstrated by AOptix for DARPA

CAMPBELL, Calif., 19 Dec. 2010. Laser communications expert AOptix Technologies Inc. in Campbell, Calif., will deliver wireless air and ground optical communications terminals for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., under terms of an $11.4 million contract. AOptix will build and flight-validate their free space optical (FSO) terminals, which use free-space lasers to move data as fast as 10 gigabits per second at distances as far as 200 kilometers on various aircraft as well as static ground stations, as part of the DARPA Free Space Optical Experimental Network Experiment (FOENEX) program.

CAMPBELL, Calif., 19 Dec. 2010.Laser communications expert AOptix Technologies Inc. in Campbell, Calif., will deliver wireless air and ground optical communications terminals for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., under terms of an $11.4 million contract.

AOptix will build and flight-validate their free space optical (FSO) terminals, which use free-space lasers to move data as fast as 10 gigabits per second at distances as far as 200 kilometers on various aircraft as well as static ground stations, as part of the DARPA Free Space Optical Experimental Network Experiment (FOENEX) program.

AOptix is working under subcontract to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (JHU/APL) in Baltimore. The FOENEX program will span 20 months with several phases of air-to-air and air-to-ground flight validations.

The program will field test high-bandwidth communications systems, integrating FSO and radio frequency (RF) technology in a mesh network. These hybrid FSO and RF link systems are designed to exploit the high capacity and long range of FSO, relieve the congestion of RF networks, and enable data transmission under extreme environmental conditions. Working together to switch seamlessly between FSO and RF, this communication system will provide the capability to relay and downlink high volume ISR data traffic in real-time.

“This program will build on years of flight test programs where AOptix has delivered several firsts in bandwidth and distance for FSO communications” says Dean Senner, president and chief executive officer of AOptix. The AOptix wireless bi-directional optical terminals use a single aperture, adaptive optics method of beam control to compensate for real-time atmospheric turbulence while maintaining lock between two terminals.

Video, voice and data is transmitted through the air over an infrared, low power, FSO laser link. For more information contact AOptix online at www.aoptix.com, DARPA at www.darpa.mil, or the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab at www.jhuapl.ed.

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