Aug. 27 (UPI) -- The 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group performed field testing of a new Free Space Optics system at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan.
FSO is a secured laser optical communication system that transmits data in a nearly undetectable way that is outside of standard radio frequencies. The Marine Corps announced Friday the system was tested on August 21, and that it could prove to expand the ability for communication on the battlefield.
The system allows for larger data transfers then conventional systems, letting real-time imagery and other information to be transmitted at a faster rate.
"The FSO is technology which changes the dynamics of how Marines will support the demand for greater data throughout while not increasing the need for more radio frequency spectrum, an already constrained resource," Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jerome Foreman, a strategic electromagnetic spectrum officer with Headquarters Marine Corps, said in a press release.
"Ensuring warfighters are equipped with the information they need whenever and wherever they need it, is critical to mission success," Foreman said.
The FSO is designed to be highly mobile and easy to use, making it easier for Marines of all stripes able to deploy the system.
The Marines are partnering with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in the development of the system. The Pentagon has been working on equipment to improve methods for protecting communications -- Russia and China are each known to be able to intercept, jam or track transmissions -- and the FSO laser system is one that has come out of the effort.
The system is nearly ready for deployable field use, according to the Marine Corps.
"When it first came up, we thought it would be a lot more difficult to set up and understand," said 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.Sgt. William Holt, a cyber-systems administrator with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18.
"When the Marines heard 'free space optics' and 'lasers,' they got nervous about that. Then when they actually got behind the gear and were able to operate it, it was easier than expected. Now we know any Marine, of any rank, is able to get the gear up and running," Holt said.
It is currently designed for ground-to-ground communications but could eventually be scaled to ship-to-shore and air-to-ground, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.