ST. LOUIS, MO-A Boeing-led industry team and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA; www.mda.mil) took a major step toward demonstrating the capability of the Airborne Laser (ABL) by successfully firing surrogate lasers from inside the aircraft. During recent ground tests at Boeing facilities in Wichita, KS, the team placed the lasers in the ABL aircraft-a modified Boeing 747-400F-and fired them repeatedly into a measuring device called a range simulator. The tests verified that the ABL team properly aligned the optical beam train, a series of optical components, steering and deformable mirrors, and sensors that will guide lasers to an actual target.
“The surrogate-laser tests provide further proof that the ABL design is sound,” said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. “They also bring ABL closer to important flight testing later this year and to the 2008 lethal shoot-down milestone.” The high-energy laser, which achieved lethal power and run-times in a ground laboratory in December 2005, is currently being refurbished and will be installed in the ABL aircraft in 2007 in preparation for flight testing.
The equipment exercised in the tests is part of the beam and fire control system designed and integrated by Lockheed Martin (www.lockheedmartin.com). The lasers used in the tests were low-power surrogates for ABL’s high-energy laser and two illuminator lasers. The actual ABL lasers will be supplied by ABL partner Northrop Grumman (www.northropgrumman.com).
For more information, contact Marc Selinger at Boeing Missile Defense Systems; e-mail: [email protected].