Airborne Laser achieves 'first light' firing onboard ABL aircraft

Sept. 8, 2008
The Boeing Company, industry teammates, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency achieved a major milestone in the development of the Airborne Laser (ABL) missile defense program by firing a high-energy chemical laser onboard the ABL aircraft for the first time during ground testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The Boeing Company, industry teammates, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency achieved a major milestone in the development of the Airborne Laser (ABL) missile defense program by firing a high-energy chemical laser onboard the ABL aircraft for the first time during ground testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The ABL's high-energy laser will undergo a series of additional ground tests, building toward lethal levels of duration and power. The laser first will be fired into an onboard calorimeter, which captures the beam and measures its power. The laser beam then will be sent through the beam control/fire control system, exiting the aircraft through the nose-mounted turret. To prepare for the tests, modifications to the ABL hangar at Edwards were completed, and additional integration testing of the beam control/fire control system was completed. Ground firings of the laser will be followed by flight tests of the entire ABL weapon system, culminating in an airborne intercept test against a ballistic missile in 2009.

In February 2008, Laser Focus World reported that the Advanced tactical laser is ready for flight tests. And in 2007, the ABL completed numerous flight tests that demonstrated its ability to track an airborne target, measure and compensate for atmospheric conditions, and deliver a surrogate high-energy laser's simulated lethal beam on the target.

For more information, visit www.boeing.com/mds.

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