Posts Tagged ‘ABL’

Airborne Laser offers new era for ballistic missile defense

February 19, 2009

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Unlike other missile defense systems, which require one or more interceptors to destroy a single ballistic missile, an ABL can destroy up to 20 missiles before its chemical supply is depleted and must be refilled. Thus, a handful of ABL planes potentially could provide around-the-clock protection against fairly sizable missile attacks emanating from a country such as North Korea. [ FULL STORY ]

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AirBorne Laser ABL Test Success

December 8, 2008
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The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully operated the Airborne Laser’s (ABL) complete weapon system for the first time in late November by projecting a beam from the Northrop Grumman Corporation-built  high-energy laser through the precision beam steering system.

 

During the ground test conducted by MDA and a Boeing-led industry team, a beam from the megawatt-class laser traveled the length of the aircraft at 670 million miles per hour, racing from the aft section that houses the laser, through the beam control / fire control (BC/FC) system, and out through the nose-mounted turret for the first time.

“The ground test proves that the ABL integrated weapon system works as planned,” said Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems for the Northrop Grumman Space Technology sector. “This impressive achievement validates the safe operation of the high-energy laser in conjunction with all other components of the revolutionary directed energy ABL aircraft.”

For the ground test, crews operating from onboard the aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., completed a planned engagement sequence by firing the high-energy laser through the entire system. The beam then exited the aircraft and was captured by the Range Simulator Diagnostic System, which provides simulated targets as well as a “dump” and diagnostics for the laser beam.

Northrop Grumman, under contract to The Boeing Company, the ABL prime contractor, designed and built the high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser, the most powerful laser ever developed for an airborne environment.

The BC/FC system, provided by Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), not only ensures that the laser is accurately aligned and pointed at the target, but also performs fire control engagement sequencing, adjusts the beam for atmospheric compensation, and helps control jitter.

The ABL aircraft consists of a modified Boeing 747-400F whose back half holds the high-energy laser. Before being installed, the high-energy laser completed rigorous ground testing in a laboratory at Edwards AFB. The front half of the aircraft contains the battle management system, provided by Boeing, and the beam control/fire control system.

Boeing Airborne Laser Team Fires High-Energy Laser Through Beam Control System

December 2, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

Our military Aviation Calendar 2009 features 13 images of US and allied military aircraft in action. Buy the Aviation Calendar 2009 exclusively at the PatriArt Gallery for only $ 19.99. Worldwide delivery available.

Boeing reports that it, together with industry teammates and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, last week fired a high-energy laser through the Airborne Laser’s (ABL) beam control/fire control system, completing the first ground test of the entire weapon system integrated aboard the aircraft.

During the test at Edwards Air Force Base, the laser beam traveled through the beam control/fire control system before exiting the aircraft through the nose-mounted turret. The beam control/fire control system steered and focused the beam onto a simulated ballistic-missile target.

“This test is significant because it demonstrated that the Airborne Laser missile defense program has successfully integrated the entire weapon system aboard the ABL aircraft,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. “With the achievement of the first firing of the laser aboard the aircraft in September, the team has now completed the two major milestones it hoped to accomplish in 2008, keeping ABL on track to conduct the missile shootdown demonstration planned for next year.”

Michael Rinn, Boeing vice president and ABL program director, said the next step for the program is a series of longer-duration laser firings through the beam control/fire control system.

“Once we complete those tests, we will begin demonstrating the entire weapon system in flight,” Rinn said. “The team is meeting its commitment to deliver this transformational directed-energy weapon system in the near term.”

The program has logged many accomplishments over the past several years. In 2005, the high-energy laser demonstrated lethal levels of duration and power in the System Integration Laboratory at Edwards. In 2007, 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. In September 2008, the team achieved “first light” by firing the high-energy laser into a calorimeter aboard the aircraft.

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.

The ABL aircraft is a modified Boeing 747-400F whose back half holds the high-energy laser, designed and built by Northrop Grumman. The front section of the aircraft contains the beam control/fire control system, developed by Lockheed Martin, and the battle management system, provided by Boeing.

Airborne Laser Begins Ground-Fire Testing

September 10, 2008

Boeing and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency on Sept. 7 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, Calif.

“The achievement of ‘first light’ onboard the Airborne Laser aircraft is a key milestone for the ABL team,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. “The team did an extraordinary job preparing ABL for this important test. The program remains on track to reach the missile shoot-down demonstration planned for 2009.”

“The start of laser firings marks the completion of a 10-month effort to install and integrate the high-energy laser and prepare it for testing,” said Mike Rinn, vice president and program director of ABL. “Using Lean process improvements, a joint contractor team reduced laser installation time on the aircraft to about a third of the time required when the laser was installed in the system integration laboratory at Edwards.”

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.

The program has amassed a series of accomplishments over the past several years. In 2005, the high-energy laser demonstrated lethal levels of duration and power in the system integration laboratory at Edwards. And in 2007, 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.

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.

The ABL aircraft is a modified Boeing 747-400F whose back half holds the high-energy laser, designed and built by Northrop Grumman. The front section of the aircraft contains the beam control/fire control system, developed by Lockheed Martin, and the battle management system, provided by Boeing.