Boeing ABL fires High-Energy Laser in flight
Boeing on August 18 successfully fired the high-energy laser aboard the Airborne Laser (ABL) aircraft in flight for the first time, moving closer toward ABL's upcoming missile shoot-down demonstration.
During the test, the modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base and fired its high-energy laser while flying over the California High Desert. The laser was fired into an onboard calorimeter, which captured the beam and measured its power.
"This was a significant test of the Airborne Laser's capabilities, demonstrating that the system has truly moved from the drawing board to reality," said Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. "We have seen that the Airborne Laser's high-energy laser is functioning aboard the aircraft and that ABL is ready for more flight tests to further validate its viability as a mobile missile defense system."
Before the upcoming missile shoot-down demonstration, ABL's high-energy laser will undergo a series of additional flight tests, building toward lethal capabilities. It will advance from being fired into the onboard calorimeter to being sent through the beam control/fire control system, exiting the aircraft through a nose-mounted turret. This will represent a major achievement in directed-energy technology because it will be the first time a megawatt-class laser has been coupled with precise pointing and atmospheric correction in an airborne environment. The team will follow this milestone with the firing of the high-energy laser against a variety of increasingly challenging targets, culminating with an airborne intercept test against a ballistic missile in the boost phase of flight.