The principle of phased array microwave antennas can be applied at optical frequencies. The far-field antenna pattern is found by spatial Fourier transform of the optical field distribution across the subaperture plane. Inertia-free antenna pattern steering can be accomplished by proper phasing of the subaperture waves. A tolerance analysis shows that the required accuracy of phase relationship and subantenna alignment can be obtained in practice when implementing control loops. We develop schemes for both transmit and receive array antennas. Experiments carried out at (lambda) equals 1.06 micrometers demonstrated both modes of operation. Optical array antennas may be applied advantageously for fine pointing in intersatellite data links and in space lidar systems.© (1994) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.