Posts Tagged ‘Test’

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

December 2, 2008
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Aviation Calendar 2009

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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.

Ground Based Midcourse Missile Defense System Tested

July 19, 2008

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Boeing and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency have successfully completed a Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system test that demonstrated the most complex integration to date of sensors required to support a missile intercept. While previous tests typically involved a single target-tracking sensor, this test used four: the Aegis Long Range Surveillance and Track system in the Pacific; the AN/TPY-2 radar in Juneau, Alaska; the Upgraded Early Warning Radar at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) in the Pacific. During the test, the sensors detected, tracked and assessed a long-range ballistic missile target launched from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. The sensors provided target information via ground and satellite links to GMD’s dual-node, distributed fire control system, located at Fort Greely, Alaska, and in Colorado Springs, Colo. The fire control system combined the sensor data, generated accurate targeting coordinates and simulated a target shootdown with a virtual ground-based interceptor. “This successful test verified that four sensors separated by thousands of miles can detect, track and provide precise trajectory information to help defend against a long-range ballistic missile attack,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. “The test builds on the momentum of the GMD program, which achieved intercepts with operationally configured interceptors in each of the past two years.” “This test demonstrated GMD’s network-centric ability to use data gathered from multiple, global sensors to give us a clearer picture of an incoming threat and greatly increase our ability to intercept that threat,” said Greg Hyslop, vice president and program director for GMD. “The sensor integration required for this test greatly reduces risk for our next intercept test, which will be the most challenging ever.”

B-2 Radar Modernization Program Passes Milestone Test

July 17, 2008

Northrop Grumman reports it has successfully completed a battery of tests designed to prove that new radar units developed for the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 Radar Modernization Program (RMP) will perform properly under all environmental conditions the aircraft is likely to experience.


Northrop Grumman is the Air Force’s prime contractor for the B-2 stealth bomber, the flagship of the nation’s long range strike arsenal.

Known as environmental qualification testing, the test program “exercised” the radar units — an antenna, a power supply and a receiver/exciter module — in a laboratory environment under extreme conditions of temperature, altitude, humidity, shock and vibration. It was conducted in collaboration with Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems, El Segundo, Calif., who developed the units under contract to Northrop Grumman.

“The completion of environmental qualification testing on schedule is a significant risk reduction milestone for the program,” said John Buzby, director of the radar modernization program for Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems sector. “It proves that the radar units are suitable for use in the operational B-2 flight environment.”

According to Buzby, the qualification testing, which was conducted as part of the RMP system development and demonstration phase, also demonstrated the integrity of the new antenna’s design.

The environmental testing is one of several activities Northrop Grumman has used to demonstrate the maturity and reliability of the radar units before beginning an RMP production program. The company has also been flight testing production-representative RMP units since January 2008 to demonstrate that they meet their operational radar performance requirements.

The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is one of the most survivable aircraft in the world. It remains the only long-range, large-payload aircraft that can penetrate deeply into protected airspace. In concert with the Air Force’s air superiority fleet, which provides airspace control, and the Air Force’s tanker fleet, which enables global mobility, the B-2 helps ensure an effective U.S. response to threats anywhere in the world. It can fly more than 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and more than 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling, giving it the ability to reach any point on the globe within hours.

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