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News

Boeing - Airborne Laser Team Flight Tests


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Boeing
: 31 August, 2007  (Company News)
Boeing-led Airborne Laser Team Completes 'Low Power' Flight Tests and Prepares to Install High Energy Laser
The Boeing Company, industry teammates and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency successfully demonstrated in flight tests that the Airborne Laser's battle management and beam control/fire control systems can complete the full series of steps required to support a ballistic missile intercept.

During these 'low power' tests, which concluded Aug. 23, the modified Boeing 747-400F operated from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and used its infrared sensors to find an instrumented target board located on a U.S. Air Force NC-135E 'Big Crow' test aircraft. ABL's battle management system, developed by Boeing, then issued engagement and target location instructions to the Lockheed Martin-designed beam control/fire control system. The beam control/fire control system acquired the target and fired its two solid-state illuminator lasers to actively track the target and measure atmospheric conditions. Since the high-energy laser is not yet installed on the aircraft, ABL fired a low-power surrogate laser at the Big Crow, simulating a target engagement.

'The completion of low-power system flight tests is a key milestone for the Airborne Laser team,' said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. 'These tests demonstrate that ABL can fully engage a threat missile with its battle management and beam control/fire control systems. We are now ready to install the high-energy laser in the aircraft to prepare for the first intercept test against an in-flight ballistic missile.'

After the program installs the Northrop Grumman-built high-energy laser in the aircraft, it 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 high-power chemical laser already has completed rigorous ground testing at Edwards Air Force Base.

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. ABL's speed, precision and lethality also have potential for other missions, including destroying air-to-air, cruise and surface-to-air missiles. Boeing provides the modified aircraft and the battle management system and is the overall systems integrator. ABL partners are Northrop Grumman, which supplies the high-energy laser and the beacon illuminator laser, and Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT], which provides the nose-mounted turret and the beam control/fire control system.
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