Free-space optical communications license agreed between Schott and Space Photonics

Elmsford, NY--Schott North America and Space Photonics (Fayetteville, AR) entered into an exclusive licensing agreement for the commercialization of LaserFire Free Space Optical Communications Systems for military and intelligence customers. The covert communications technology enables uninterrupted, secure communications--building-to-building, vehicle-to-vehicle, and tower-to-tower--where high-capacity fiber-optic cable has been damaged or is not available, particularly in radio-frequency (RF)-denied environments.

Many free space optical (FSO) communication systems use a large beam to maintain their links in order to accommodate for small mounting structure shifts. The LaserFire system, however, incorporates a patented automated beam pointing, acquisition, and tracking (PAT) technique for improved performance regardless of available bandwidth, distance, adverse weather conditions, or movement. Furthermore, since the terminal uses low-power infrared (IR) lasers, it is nearly impossible for adversaries to detect and intercept the beam while the system is operating, improving covert operations.

"This mission-critical communications technology was developed from our long-standing collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense. LaserFire [trade mark] will dramatically improve communications in RF-constrained environments," said Chuck Chalfant, president and CEO of Space Photonics. "We chose SCHOTT as our manufacturing partner because of the company's unparalleled ability to industrialize and produce highly complex optics."

Space Photonics recently completed development of the LaserFire system under a four-year Air Force Research Lab Phase III SBIR contract. In selecting Schott as the manufacturer and distributor of the LaserFire system, Space Photonics says they have secured an expert partner recognized in the defense community for delivering high-quality components for use in night vision goggles, lasers, advanced imaging fiber optics, and transparent armor window systems. "In the field, effective communication determines the fate of a mission. LaserFire [trade mark] will ensure the safety of troops by offering a precise, secure, and dependable means of transmitting information," said Major General (Ret.) Scott Custer, USAF, president and CEO of Schott Defense.

Schott's Lighting and Imaging unit in Southbridge, MA will begin manufacturing the LaserFire system in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Space Photonics develops, markets, and sells optical networking systems for military and aerospace applications. These products include their patented LaserFire free space optical communications systems, radiation-hard FireFiber fiber-optic transceivers, and high capacity real-time FireRing data handling networks.

Schott Defense has been supplying the U.S. defense market with advanced technologies for over 40 years and the product range includes fiber optics, optical and filter glasses, glass and glass-ceramic for armor, and hermetic packages for protecting sensitive electronic components.

SOURCE: Schott North America; www.us.schott.com/english/news/press_releases.html?NID=461&PHPSESSID=0d6u60hi13ij6c9u0nulvr02s6

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