Airborne Laser Test Bed is put to rest in the Boneyard

coil_shoots_scud
An infrared image shows the Airborne Laser firing at a SCUD missile an unspecified distance away, successfully shooting the missile down. (Image: MDA)


Davis Monthan Air Force Base, AZ--The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced this week that the Airborne Laser Test Bed -- a megawatt-class 1.3 µm chemical oxygen-iodine laser (COIL) mounted in a modified Boeing 747 and intended to shoot down ballistic missiles in their boost phase -- has been put into "long-term storage" at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. This location, also known as the "Boneyard," is where excess and unused military aircraft are taken for preservation.

The Airborne Laser achieved high-power "first light" in ground testing in 2008, then was tested in flight several times over the next few years with varying success; however, it never reached the couple-hundred-kilometer range required to make the system useful in practice. In addition, its messy and bulky chemical-based technology is being superseded by electrically pumped lasers such as the alkali-vapor laser and, more importantly, diode-pumped solid-state lasers and fiber lasers, which are far higher in efficiency and require only a source of electrical power to operate.


Indeed, the MDA notes that it is "continuing efforts to develop highly efficient electric lasers in support of missile defense to significantly reduce the complexity and cost of future directed-energy weapons."




50 YEARS OF SOLID-STATE LASERS


A long way from the ruby laser

Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Multichannel Spectroscopy: Technology and Applications

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu, highlights some of the photonic technology used in spectroscopy, and the resulting applications.

Handheld Spectrometers

Spectroscopy is a powerful and versatile tool that traditionally often required a large and bulky instrument. The combination of compact optics and modern pa...

Fracking, climate change, and lasers:  new tools to reduce fugitive methane emissions

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu Corporation, covers recent developments and field deployments of compact quantum-cascade-laser (QCL)-based methane senso...

Opportunities in the Mid-IR

The technology for exploiting the mid-IR is developing rapidly:  it includes quantum-cascade lasers and other sources, spectroscopic instruments of many...
White Papers

Narrow-line fiber-coupled modules for DPAL pumping

A new series of fiber coupled diode laser modules optimized for DPAL pumping is presented, featur...

Accurate LED Source Modeling Using TracePro

Modern optical modeling programs allow product design engineers to create, analyze, and optimize ...

Optical Isolators Improve Engraving Performance of Pulsed Fiber Lasers

The deleterious effects of back reflections on pulsed fiber lasers used in marking and engraving ...
Technical Digests

ADHESIVES, SEALANTS, AND COATINGS: Solutions for optical technologies

A vast array of optical systems of various types and degrees of complexity require the use of adh...

WAVELENGTH-SWEPT LASERS: Dispersion-tuned fiber laser sweeps over a 140 nm range for OCT

By eliminating the use of mechanical tunable filters and instead tuning by intensity-modulation i...

Keeping pace with developments in photonic materials research

For demanding or custom spectroscopy solutions, care must be taken in selecting and integrating a...

HIGH-POWER FIBER LASERS: Working in the kilowatt regime

High-power materials-processing fiber lasers are available in an increasing variety of forms, as ...

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.
Social Activity
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Copyright © 2007-2014. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS