Optical fiber transmission can provide substantial benefits to MIL-STD-1553B data bus systems, most notably complete freedom from interconnect EMC problems. However, the very short intermessage gap specified by the Standard has hitherto confined passive optical interconnect implementations to those based on a single star coupler. The unacceptably unwieldy and vulnerable optical harness which this necessitates will in many cases impede this application of fiber optics. We have therefore proposed an efficient ‘local star coupler’ passive interconnect, which can be flexibility tailored to provide an elegant interconnect in a wide range of installations. This concept has been enabled by the development of a fibre optic transceiver which embodies novel coding and receiver design features. These allow it to robustly achieve sufficient sensitivity and dynamic range, in full compliance with 1553B timing, throughout a military avionics temperature range. The overall system has been proven by a most successful demonstration rig.