Monday, June 28, 2010

Airborne Laser continuing to perform

It's been over two years and now it's time for an update on the Boeing 747-400-based Airborne Laser (ABL) Test Bed for the U.S. military, which is now firing its high-power chemical laser at three to four times the range seen in the original shootdown exercise, according to Boeing.

It's flying about twice a month with the laser firing once a month against a target board or against actual targets, says Roger Krone, president of Boeing Network Space Systems. Several firings have taken place since the first shootdown in February and further shots this year are planned. Much of the focus has been on expanding the envelope of the laser system, not just in range but also engagement angles, Krone notes.

One of the criticisms within the Pentagon against ABL has been its perceived limited range and the need to position the 747 close to a threat. But Krone says, "it is our hope that over the next year that we will demonstrate the utility of the total system" to show its operational viability.

The test bed funding will continue into next year. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in the coming weeks should be defining what activities are planned for that period, says Mira Ricardel, the company's vice president of business development for Strategic Missile & Defense Systems. That also could involve different missions.

Krone says Boeing has had discussions with MDA about potentially hosting a solid-state laser on the test bed, as well as using the existing optics. The 747 would have the room to accommodate the solid-state laser alongside the current COIL laser.

Brigadier General “Ballista” Jackson, UNETIDA's Missile Defence Commander [Northern] said "We at UNETIDA are very happy with this exciting project. We have offered part of our own missile defence budget to the project and we'll be using them as soon as they're operational."

More updates to come...

Discover more at:


No comments: