March 17, 2011
In the more than 10 years of working with directed energy, the airborne laser program continues to do “ground-breaking science,” a Boeing program leader said Wednesday.
The program’s funding has been cut and so have the number of team members, Mike Rinn, Boeing vice president for directed energy systems, told reporters at a roundtable discussion.
But the Boeing Wichita-modified 747-400F aircraft used as the test bed continues to fly and undergo testing.
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August 23, 2010
An intercept test of a missile-destroying laser aboard a converted Boeing Co 747 aircraft has been postponed for a fourth time because of technical problems, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency said.
“Troubleshooting indicates that a hot bypass valve on the aircraft is in an abnormal condition, thus not allowing for proper component cooling,” the agency said in a statement on its website. “The team is evaluating the potential causes.”
The test involving the Airborne Laser Test Bed was to have taken place Sunday morning off the California coast. A new date for the experiment will be set for the coming week, the announcement said.
August 20, 2010
A high-profile test of a missile-destroying laser aboard a converted Boeing Co 747 aircraft has been postponed for a third time because of a technical glitch, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency said.
The agency cited an unspecified problem with a tracking camera’s cooling system. Repairs could not be completed to fit the test window available at a range off the California coast on Tuesday night, it said.
The goal is to shoot down a mock ballistic missile more than 100 miles away, twice the range demonstrated in a maiden test on February 11, using the airborne chemical oxygen iodine laser.
The agency expects to be ready to run the delayed test in time for the next window of opportunity on the range, on Sunday, said Debra Christman, an agency spokeswoman.
February 22, 2010
Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA, 25)
Praise for the recent successful ABL test from the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. Hopefully this recognition of a viable program will translate into more funding and support in the FY2011 Defense Authorization bill. Only time will tell.
U.S. Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, today praised the Missile Defense Agency and its industry partners for last week’s successful airborne laser test. On February 11, the Missile Defense Agency used a High Energy Laser (HEL) carried on a Boeing 747-400 aircraft to successfully destroy a missile in its boost phase. The HEL also successfully engaged a second threat missile less than hour later.
McKeon’s statement follows:
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February 12, 2010
Airborne Laser Test, 2-11-2010
Dear Members and Friends,
Late last night, the Airborne Laser (ABL), now called the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB), a Boeing-747 modified to carry a chemical based megawatt laser weapon system, successfully intercepted and destroyed two short-range ballistic missiles, one liquid fueled Scud like missile and one solid fueled U.S. target, off the Ventura coast of California at Point Mugu Air Station, the first one at 11:44PM EST, and the second an hour later. The ABL used speed of light lasers with multiple beams to target, track, intercept and destroy the ballistic missiles within seconds during the boost phase of the ballistic missiles’ flights.
These intercepts by a laser on an air based platform are a historic technical and engineering revolution. It is a technological game changer that gives the United States a real proven capability that is air mobile, can target, track and intercept multiple targets in seconds, cost efficient and reusable. There are no other proven systems in the world today or in the foreseable future that can shoot down boosting ballistic missiles. The United States leads the world on this game-changing technology
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August 25, 2009
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece American Foreign Policy Council Vice President Ilan Berman and Foundation for Defense of Democracies President Clifford May argue that Secretary of State Clinton was right when she said in Thailand that the U.S. needs to build a “defense umbrella” in the Middle East to protect our allies from Iranian nuclear intimidation. They argue that any “defense umbrella” needs to have the capability to protect against nuclear capable ballistic missiles.
The only question to Berman and May is whether or not we are willing to doing this. The 2010 Budget calls for a $1.4 billion dollar reduction to missile defense budget and many experts are worried this is only the beginning of the cuts. Additionally they are worried that these cuts will mean that the missile defense progress made during the second Bush Presidency will be lost.
They call for the Obama Administration to reconsider its positions on the MKV, the ABL, and the “Third Site” which consists of sensors in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland. They also call for an end to the thinking that the ability to defend against missiles traveling through space is the same thing as “weaponizing” space.
They argue that pursuing missile defense half-heartedly only encourages investment in missile defense technology by our adversaries because it leads them to believe they could have the capability to overwhelm our defenses. Finally they say the discussions about missile defense should enjoy broad bipartisan support because the mission of missile defense is simply to protect the American people, our armed forces and our allies from attack – and there is nothing controversial about that.
August 24, 2009
On August 18th the Airborne Laser (ABL) successfully fired its High Energy Laser (HEL) while flying. The test, called “First Light in Flight” shows the HEL’s ability to operate while flying. The plane took off from Andrews Air Force Base and fired the laser into an onboard calorimeter. A calorimeter is a device used to measure the characteristics and performance of the laser.
This most recent test is the second successful tests in as many weeks and represents a final stage of the flight tests. There is a lethal demonstration against a boost-phase missile planned for later this year.
August 11, 2009
Lockheed Martin executives have recently come out in recent days to build support for the Airborne Laser (ABL). Doug Graham, vice president of Advanced Programs, Strategic and Missile Defense Systems, told reporters in Washington DC that, “We [Lockheed] have fairly strong convictions that this will work.” He added that “We want to demonstrate [ABL's] ability to protect against long-range threats. We’re figuring out logical [mission applications for] this incredibly capable asset.”
Graham’s argument is basically that the ABL is a first generation project that needs continued investment to become an effective and reliable boost-phase missile defense system in the future. The argument is expanded by others who argue that the laser technology behind the ABL could be shared with other weapons systems in the future and could prove useful in many different circumstances.
However, these comments came at a time when many defense experts see the ABL as a doomed project. It has little public support in the Obama Administration or the Department of Defense. The Administration and Secretary of Defense Gates have said they wish to keep the ABL project but would transfer it to a research and development project. Originally sla
August 3, 2009
This past weekend I was watching random videos on YouTube and came across this video of the Airborne Laser being featured on Future Weapons. Though only a litte more than 2 minutes in length it provides a great overview of the ABL system.
And in case you’ re not familiar, Future Weapons is a show on the Discovery Channel where host and former Navy SEAL Mack Machowicz travels the world in search of Future Weapons. Check out the shows website here.
Stay tuned for more information about the ABL later.