Air Mission Laser Communications for 2040
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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The US military has come to rely on global positioning system GPS position, navigation, and timing PNT and radio frequency RF communications to a fault. While such capability provides a robust flexibility and tight decision making cycles, the reliance upon it presents critical vulnerabilities. The recent growth of the anti-access, area denial A2AD concept, along with anti-satellite ASAT capabilities and other aspect of contested and congested environments portends a future that requires more secure communications means, with increased capacity. Free space optical FSO laser communications LC systems, especially when used in a hybrid fashion with RF capabilities, offers increased security, increased data rate read bandwidth, longer range, and reduced dependency on GPS and satellite communications SATCOM. To meet these challenges, this paper recommends the accelerated development of next generation inertial navigation unit INU and clock technology, FSO LC aperture development, requirements for hybrid communications capabilities on current and future platforms, and development of a high altitude, long duration, multi-role communications and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance ISR platform.