LOLA (Liaison Optique Laser Aéroportée) is a French national demonstrator programme to establish an optical link through the atmosphere between an airborne carrier representative of the future medium- and high-altitude UAVs (MALE and HALE) and ESA’s Artemis geo-stationary communications satellite. Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor on this programme.
First in the world: the flight tests at 6,000m and 10,000m performed in 2006 demonstrated the feasibility of establishing and maintaining 40,000km optical links between a Mystère XX and the ARTEMIS geo-stationary spacecraft. These first ever optical links between an airborne and a geostationary satellite have shown performance levels above expectations.
The link will be used for secure transmission of information received from UAVs by operation centres a few thousand kilometres away, within about one second and at very high data rates. This high capacity datastream will considerably reduce the time needed to transmit information from the theatre of operation, improve control of information and bring significant operational advantages.
It clearly shows the relevance of optical links for dual or defence-specific applications. It also further demonstrates Airbus Defence and Space’s expertise in the sphere of optical links for telecommunications applications.