US Marines Test Laser Communication System to Beat Radio Jammers

One of the US Defense Department’s top research agencies has been testing a new communication network that one researcher described as “basically fiber optic communications without the fiber.”

In early 2017, the DoD awarded the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) $45 million to develop a system of sensors and hardware that would enable soldiers to communicate even if the enemy jams the radio waves — something that China and Russia have been testing in recent years, Business Insider noted.

Marines at Camp Hansen on the Japanese island of Okinawa tested the Tactical Line-of-sight Optical communications Network (TALON) on August 21, which “transfers data on a highly secured and nearly undetectable infrared laser, separate from the radio frequency spectrum,” a Marine Corps release said.

“We came out to Okinawa because it was one of the harshest humid environments, with highly variable weather on very short time scales,” Dr. Linda Thomas, a senior research engineer with the US Naval Research Laboratory, told DVIDS Thursday. “It can go from being nice and sunny to torrential downpours. We are looking at how the system operates and handles these conditions and how we can better fulfill the needs of the future Marine Corps.”

The system, which resembles a comically large surveyor’s tripod, sends a confined beam of light from a transmitter to a receiver it can “see” directly. Lining up the two devices can be difficult, since unlike a…

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