January 4, 2008, St. Louis, MO--The Boeing Company, industry teammates, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency have achieved the final 2007 milestones for the Airborne Laser (ABL) program, capping a successful year for the revolutionary airborne directed-energy weapon system.
The 2007 milestones were achieved when:
---The Northrop Grumman laser team completed inspection and refurbishment of the high-energy laser components that were previously tested successfully in a system integration laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, CA.
---The team completed all technical drawings for laser installation on the aircraft, incorporating improvements learned during the lab tests. Early release of the drawings and installation plans allows Boeing and Northrop Grumman technicians to assemble and test the high-energy chemical laser in one-third the time originally required.
---Modifications to the ABL hangar at Edwards were completed that will allow ground tests of the high-energy laser to occur aboard the ABL aircraft.
Earlier in 2007, the Airborne Laser completed a series of flight tests of the Lockheed Martin-developed beam control/fire control system at Edwards. In the tests, ABL tracked an airborne target, measured and compensated for atmospheric turbulence and fired a surrogate high-energy laser at the target.
The team is now installing the high-energy laser in the aircraft at Edwards. When integration is completed, the program will conduct an extensive series of system-level ground and flight tests, leading to an intercept test against an in-flight ballistic missile in 2009.
The Airborne Laser consists of a modified Boeing 747-400F whose back half will hold the high-energy laser, designed and built by Northrop Grumman. The aircraft's front half contains the beam control/fire control system, provided by Lockheed Martin, and the battle management system, provided by Boeing. Boeing is the prime contractor for ABL, which will provide speed-of-light capability to destroy all classes of ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight.
For more information, visit www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/abl/index.html .