SDML is a payload that combines a variety of real-time Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) collection capabilities, and an Optical Data Link within the same sensor, and is suitable for air, ground, naval and space-based applications.
LIDAR is similar to radar but uses light instead of radio waves, enabling airborne ISR optical collection capabilities and secure high bandwidth optical communications between land, air, sea and space nodes. The current technical readiness level for SDML is just below seven, and it continues to be developed.
- Operational flexibility: the sensing mode in SDML is wholly defined in software, allowing the single payload to switch between a number of ISR and communications modes, including 3D mapping, optical Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) and target marking – without physical reconfiguration
- Extremely compact payload: SDML weighs just 4kg. Built to operate in challenging environments, it will also be environmentally qualified to fly up to 70,000 ft
- Provides data transfer rates that are hundreds, often thousands, of times faster than with RF communications
- Cost effective and nearly impossible to intercept: optical communication involves point-to-point data transfer, meaning it is covert by nature. This removes problems with RF spectrum capacity and reduces operational costs as no spectrum licence or de-confliction is required
Unique selling points
Existing LIDAR are designed for one application or capability, such as 3D mapping. With SDML, all possible LIDAR capabilities are combined into one payload, providing the ability to switch beyond those capabilities in order to meet dynamic and rapidly changing operational requirements. The result is a game changer on the modern battlefield; RF spectrum free communications, with very low probability of intercept at 1g per second initially, potentially rising to 5g per seconds.