In Early December 2006Astrium 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 (). 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.