ITT Exelis (NYSE: XLS) and partner, Innovative Technical Solutions, Inc. (commercially known as NOVASOL), have been awarded a $7 million contract to develop a laser communications system for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The team will complete development of a line-of-sight, high-bandwidth laser communications system that will be used for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and ground-to-ground mission applications. The contract is with the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Va., and the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions have become more sophisticated, requiring more data to be exchanged – faster –than ever before. Delivering ISR data to decision makers and warfighters is challenging yet critical to mission success. “Today’s missions require moving huge amounts of data – more than three gigabytes per second – all in near real time,” said Gary Tarantino, manager of advanced systems and strategic initiatives for Exelis Electronic Systems. “Using laser communications gives our forces the information they need without competing with radio frequency transmissions – it’s like having your own traffic lane at rush hour.” “With technology developed by our companies in concert with the Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Laboratory during the past eight years, moving high volumes of data with laser communications is now cost-effective and dependable,” said John Sender, vice president at NOVASOL. “Our systems will help ensure warfighters have the tactical and strategic edge in combat operations.” Exelis and NOVASOL have successfully field-demonstrated their laser capability, using both short- and long-range transmission, within a simulated Marine Corps network. The team has also participated in Navy exercises to improve the technology used to transmit and receive data over extended line-of-sight distances in diverse weather conditions. Under the contract, Exelis is leading systems engineering, product development and production, and NOVASOL is engaged in the design and development of laser communication technologies.