Early December 2006 EADS Astrium conducted a first demonstration
utilizing high capacity electro-optical (laser) datalinks connecting
geostationary communications satellites and airborne platforms.
The tests involved the establishment of six two-way
optical links between a Mystère 20 aircraft, flying at
altitudes of 6,000 and 10,000 m' and the ARTEMIS satellite,
orbiting the earth I a geostationary orbit, 40,000 km above
the earth's surface.
The tests were executed as part of an airborne
laser optical link (LOLA), a basic study program conducted by
the French defense procurement agency (DGA). The test demonstrated
link lock obtained at less than one second, and pointing accuracy
of the order of 0.5 microrad. The laser data rate between aircraft
and satellite achieved so far is 50 Mbps. LOLA offers over x15
improvement in efficiency, compared to microwave links used
on aircraft or UAVs. An inherent advantage of the laser beam
is its discrete operation and immunity to jamming.