With a distributed aperture imaging system, one creates a large imaging aperture by combining the light from a series of distributed telescopes. In doing this, one can construct a fine-resolution imaging system with reduced volume. In this paper we present work on distributed aperture, active imaging systems that use coherent detection and digital image formation. In such a system, the image formation process incorporates digital correction of optical and atmospheric phase errors. Here we discuss the principles underlying this method and present results from laboratory experiments and field experiments performed over a 0.5 km outdoor test range.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.