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Free Space Optical Communication for Tactical Operations

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The increasing demand for data bandwidth is a present and relevant issue for communications. Military communications further require secure connections for data transfer. The Free Space Optical FSO communication system, with its ability to connect at a high data rate, offers an appealing solution to the current need. Using laser technology and transmitting at a wavelength invisible to the human eye, FSO is difficult to detect and intercept, providing a highly secure means of communication. However, it faces the limitation of being a strictly line-of-sight communication technology and is known to be greatly affected by atmospheric attenuation. This thesis documents three experiments involving FSO technology, including the process of the experiment preparations, laser-related hazard assessment, and implementation of a standard procedure to mitigate any possible risk. The contribution of this thesis is the acknowledgment that this proposed process is feasible. Experiments were conducted on an SA Photonics NEXUS 3 FSO Communications System. From the gathered results, the system was assessed to provide high throughput and low frame loss. Our work also ascertains that FSO is a technology that can become the next-generation means of military communications. Specifically, our findings indicate that the NEXUS has potential and merits further testing and development for military communications.

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Technical Report




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Approved For Public Release;

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