Exelis and US NRL test high-speed laser-based communications technology

26 November 2013 (Last Updated November 26th, 2013 18:30)

Exelis and Innovative Technology Solutions (doing business as NovaSol) have collaborated with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to conduct series of evaluations of the tactical line-of-sight optical network (TALON) free-space optical communications system.

Illustration of TALON

Exelis and Innovative Technology Solutions (doing business as NovaSol) have collaborated with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to conduct series of evaluations of the tactical line-of-sight optical network (TALON) free-space optical communications system.

During the month-long, three-phase evaluation, the ruggedised TALON system demonstrated its broadband capability to transfer and receive streaming audio and video, in high-wind environments simultaneously, from stationary and mobile positions.

The system wirelessly transmitted 100MB per second of high-resolution imagery and video over a distance of more than 50km during the testing conducted at NRL's Chesapeake Bay Detachment, Maryland, at Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, and at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, US.

Exelis integrated electronic warfare systems business vice-president and general manager Joe Rambala said that the free-space optical communications systems provide high-capacity data link for fighting forces that is not reliant on hardline connections, such as fibre cables.

"As the battlefield becomes more data-driven, ensuring warfighters are equipped with the information they need, whenever and wherever they need it, is critical to mission success," Rambala said.

"We look forward to working with Exelis and other partners to transition TALON successfully from research and development to a mission-ready product."

NovaSol president and CEO, Dr. Rick Holasek, said: "We look forward to working with Exelis and other partners to transition TALON successfully from research and development to a mission-ready product."

The communications system can transmit narrow beams of energy capable of carrying anywhere from 100KB to tens of GB of data per second using laser technology.

Capable of operating approximately 1,000 times faster than conventional radio frequency communications systems, the narrow laser beams are invisible and provide an extremely low probability of interception.

The TALON system has been developed under a Future Naval Capability programme funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).


Image: TALON uses higher-frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. Photo: courtesy of Exelis.

Defence Technology