General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has announced the successful completion of a flight test to demonstrate air-to-air laser communication capability for military applications.

The demonstration was conducted from Montgomery Field in Kearney Mesa, California, US.

The recent test involved two company-owned King Air aircraft. Both aircraft were integrated with GA-ASI’s Laser Airborne Communication (LAC) terminals.

As part of the test, the two aircraft took off from Montgomery Field to undertake the assessment in segregated airspace near Yuma, Arizona.

The company said that the assigned team for this test was able to maintain a communication link, with a data transfer speed of 1.0gbps.

This allowed the successful exchange of a wide variety of data, including voice data, video and real-time navigation.

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GA-ASI Mission Payloads & Exploitation vice-president Satish Krishnan said: “This air-to-air demonstration was a major success and marks a critical milestone for GA-ASI’s Lasercom development team.

“The success of this flight will pave the way for more opportunities to demonstrate crosslinks from aircraft to other platforms, including uncrewed aircraft, maritime vessels and space systems.”

Laser communication is a suitable choice for military applications due to its ability to support higher data transfer rates in comparison with radio frequency systems, according to GA-ASI.

It also features anti-jam and low probability of intercept/low probability of detection capabilities.

The company is planning to equip laser communication with its remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). This will allow the RPA to undertake various beyond-line-of-sight communications for multi-domain users.

Furthermore, this new communication capability can be used as a podded solution for GA-ASI’s entire unmanned aircraft product line, which includes MQ-9A Reaper, MQ-1C Gray Eagle 25M and MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian.