An analysis of optical scintillation and fade on long slant-path atmospheric channels is presented via a direct comparison between wave-optics-based numerical simulations and experimental flight data from a ground-to-aircraft optical communication link. In addition to physically modeling the propagation through slant-path atmospheric turbulence, the numerical simulations include simultaneously the effects of mechanical pointing jitter, aperture-averaging, and first-order scattering/absorption models. The power spectral density, fade probability, and mean fade time of the simulated power fluctuations are studied and validated against measurements taken at slant-path distances ranging from 60 to 113 km and aircraft speeds up to 70 m / s.
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