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New standards for data transmission -
ODU Expanded Beam Performance technology

Interview with Alexander Burger on the challenges for data transmission in military environments

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Alexander Burger, BDM Defence and Aerospace

Alexander Burger,
BDM Defence and Aerospace

Operations by military and security forces require a permanent exchange of data for the successful execution of the mission. The exchange of information between forces on land, at sea and in the air is a critical element for the outcome of those operations.

The technological leaps in sensors, actuators, effectors combined with rapidly increasing use cases for automated processes are leading to exponentially increasing data streams. This pushes conventional transmission systems to and beyond their physical limits.

Fibre optic technology will play a decisive role in mastering these tasks in the future. It impresses with fast and interference-free data transmission and offers the following significant advantages, particularly in a military context:

  • Transmission range
  • Protection against eavesdropping and interference
  • Latency performance
  • Weight
  • Scalability
  • Packing density
  • Sustainable and obsolescence-minimizing technology

In order to utilize the full potential of this technology, all components of the transmission system must be taken into account - the connector, the cable, as well as the connection of these two components.

ODU Fibre Optic Connection Solutions

ODU offers fibre optic connection systems with polymer fibres, physical contact, expanded beam lens technology as single or hybrid solutions. Robust connectors specially developed for usage in military environments protect the interfaces even under extreme conditions. This makes ODU Fibre Optic the ideal solution for military applications - under extreme conditions, in harsh environments or with a high number of mating cycles.

ODU Fiber Optic Portfolio: POF, Physical Contact, Expanded Beam and Expanded Beam Performance

ODU Fiber Optic Portfolio: POF, Physical Contact, Expanded Beam and Expanded Beam Performance

Expanded Beam Performance - disruptive in military data rates

In particular, with its Expanded Beam Performance technology (EBP), ODU offers a new lens-based solution for fibre optic connections, made for extreme conditions. The contactless transmission of data in the connector enables a connection that is extremely insensitive to contamination. It is therefore not necessary to clean the interfaces at fixed intervals, which minimizes the maintenance effort of the system. Thanks to the AMC® Series T connectors, the special requirements in the military environment pose no problem for the connection system, even under extreme mechanical loads and other environmental influences.

The ODU EBP solution offers a unique technological leap forward. With insertion loss and return loss as central measured variables of transmission performance in fibre optic systems, it offers values of unprecedented quality. Due to the high requirements for connecting fibre optic cables to the connector with EBP technology, the ODU EBP portfolio includes fully assembled fibre optic system solutions from a single source.

Q: What fundamental principles determine the use of data technology in modern warfare & operations management and how does this differ from civilian applications?

A: Data transmission in military environments is initially subject to very specific requirements depending on the application. In addition to reliability and resilience, it is particularly important to protect the interfaces and transmission links from being compromised by the enemy. Unlike in civilian use, the life and limb of the operators and ultimately the success of the operation depend on the safety of the data rates.

Cable-guided data rates are mainly used for immobile and semi-mobile command posts and operations centres. Mobile platform-specific networks are also preferably implemented using physical line media. The integrity of the transmission paths is maximized wherever possible by using fixed and shielded cabling.

ODU AMC® Series T Expanded Beam Performance

ODU AMC® Series T Expanded Beam Performance

Q: Are there special requirements for mobile communication units?

A: Due to the deployment in contested areas, successful shielding against enemy impact through electronic warfare, ergonomic handling during installation & disassembly, consistent data transmission quality in every situation as well as maximum transmission range without the need for additional amplifiers play a special role.

Due to the additional maximum packing density and expandable data rates, ODU EBP fibre optic technology is particularly suitable for the following high-value military areas:

  • Communication links with high data transfer rates, such as command posts or operations centres
  • Terrestrial connection points for long-range connections between two or more transmission and reception points
  • Stationary data connections as port infrastructures, airports and air defence structures
  • Radio and data distribution points at tactical level, such as forward operating bases (FOB) or static command posts (last mile)
  • Connection of high-value line replaceable units (LRUs) at command posts or aircraft

Q: What are the vulnerabilities of conventional fibre optic interfaces in military applications?

A: The usage of fibre optic connectors is often accompanied by a complex cleaning procedure before each mating process. Common systems are usually limited in transmission range. Real combat scenarios, possibly far away from laboratory infrastructure, are proving to be an additional safety risk when using current fibre optic systems. Physical contact technology is susceptible to mechanical influence such as abrasion. Standard lenses Fibre optic systems are limited in their data transmission quality by suboptimal attenuation behaviour and the size of the installation space.

Not so with ODU: Expanded Beam Performance technology offers high-end transmission properties with extremely low insertion and return loss levels over many mating cycles. As there is no physical contact between the contact ends, they are insensitive to soiling and can be cleaned with minimal effort. The world's smallest 12-channel lens connector guarantees excellent transmission performance with 360° shielding, five-finger coding and water & dust resistance up to IP6K9K.

Robust under high loads and extreme temperatures, resistant to dust, water and vibration. The ODU EBP series has been optimized for military applications thanks to its high load capacity and transmission reliability even under the most technically demanding environmental influences.

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