Air Force Phase I Awarded “FSO and RF Integrated Aerial Communications (FaRIA-C)”

Free Space Optical (FSO) communication systems offer extremely high throughput links over long distances, with impressive LPI/LPD characteristics. However, they are often susceptible to deep fades due to atmospheric effects or terrain blockage, as well as scattering due to scintillation. High-rate radio frequency (RF) communications systems currently offer data rates approximately an order of magnitude less than FSO and with less impressive LPI/LPD characteristics, but they are widely-fielded, far more robust to detrimental environmental effects, and less sensitive to aperture mis-alignment.  AFRL seeks an integrated hybrid FSO/RF communications system that can simultaneously utilize both FSO and high-rate RF communications to provide dependable, resilient communication links through dynamic environmental conditions during flight. The Barron team proposes to develop FSO and RF Integrated Aerial Communications (FaRIA-C), which will enable simultaneous usage of FSO and RF links for data transmission, and support adaptive loading of the two links in response to the dynamic flight environment and changes in the quality of the respective FSO and RF channels.