Laser propagation through extended turbulence causes severe beam spread and scintillation. Airborne laser communication systems require special considerations in size, complexity, power, and weight. Rather than using bulky, costly, adaptive optics systems, we reduce the variability of the received signal by integrating a two-transmitter system with an adaptive threshold receiver to average out the deleterious effects of turbulence. In contrast to adaptive optics approaches, systems employing multiple transmitters and adaptive thresholds exhibit performance improvements that are unaffected by turbulence strength. Simulations of this system with on-off-keying (OOK) showed that reducing the scintillation variations with multiple transmitters improves the performance of low-frequency adaptive threshold estimators by 1-3 dB. The combination of multiple transmitters and adaptive thresholding provided at least a 10 dB gain over implementing only transmitter pointing and receiver tilt correction for all three high-Rytov number scenarios. The scenario with a spherical-wave Rytov number enjoyed a 13 dB reduction in the required SNR for BER’s between 10−5 to 10−3, consistent with the code gain metric. All five scenarios between 0.06 and 0.20 Rytov number improved to within 3 dB of the SNR of the lowest Rytov number scenario.
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