DARPA begins work on new comm network

DARPA begins work on new comm network

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing a prototype system that integrates free-space optical and radio frequency communications in a single network.

The Optical and Radio Frequency Combined Link Experiment, known as ORCLE, combines optical communications technology'which transmits data via lasers'with radio signals and network management software to ensure a reliable network, according to statement released by DARPA.

The first phase of the program is to develop a prototype that combines the technologies for testing within the next 18 months, DARPA said. Optical transmissions provide high bandwidth but can be disrupted by obstacles such as rain clouds, but radio transmissions would serve as a backup.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the ORCLE system and is overseeing the system integration effort.

'ORCLE promises a huge increase in the amount of information available to the warfighter on the battlefield,' said Stephen Griggs, DARPA's ORCLE program manager. 'A reliable, high-data rate, timely means of taking this information from its source to the person needing it is one of the weakest links in the chain. ORCLE promises to be a major step in strengthening this link.'

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