Surface Forces: LightSpeed Between Ships


January 17, 2006: The U.S. Navy has found a new way to conduct ship-to-ship conversations when in a group of ships. The new system uses the same technology employed for remote control devices (the TV one being most common), or infrared connections between laptop computers and printers (a 1990s technology that never caught on.) Navies have used radio silence at sea to prevent the enemy from finding them (with radio direction gear). But ships in a task force have to communicate with each other when close together, and have used flags, signal lights, low power radio and lasers. The new "LightSpeed" device is simpler, faster and stealthier than all the others. LightSpeed uses a binocular modified for the purpose. The infrared signal is intensified via the optics of the binoculars, which are also fitted with sensors to detect incoming signals. A headset is attached to the LightSpeed binoculars, so users can talk to people on other ships, 3-4 kilometers away. LightSpeed can also transmit digital data (like computer files.) The LightSpeed technology would also be useful on land (for combat operations where you wanted to use radio silence) and in the air, between stealthy aircraft.


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