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Author Topic: Airborne Laser shoots down 1st ballistic target  (Read 4037 times)
 
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dexy
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« on: February 14, 2010, 01:49:15 am »

12.02.2010.

Airborne Laser shoots down 1st ballistic target
By Stephen Trimble

The Boeing Airborne Laser Testbed successfully shot down a Scud missile-like target at 2044 PST off the California coast, a landmark achievement in the $6 billion programme's 16-year history.

The ALTB, a 747-400 freighter modified with a 1MW-class chemical laser and a 1.5m telescope mounted on the nose, used onboard sensors to acquire the short-range ballistic target shortly after launch from an offshore, mobile platform, the Missile Defense Agency says in a press release.

The ALTB then fired a low-energy laser to measure atmospheric disturbances and make corrections. Finally, the ALTB fired the high-energy laser, which destroyed the ballistic missile within two minutes of target launch.

The test marked the first attempt by the ALTB to shoot-down a ballistic missile powered by liquid fuel.

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The MDA has not revealed the speed of the target missile or its range from the ALTB.

Boeing released a press release describing the event as a "breakthrough with incredible potential".

"We look forward to conducting additional research and development to explore what this unique directed-energy system can do," says Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems.

The Department of Defense, however, last year re-classified the Airborne Laser from a development programme to a testbed effort, and withdrew funds to build a second flight test aircraft based on the 747-8.

In 2009, MDA and Boeing officials said they planned to continue a series of intercept tests through the end of 2010 in an effort to reduce risk and expand the envelope of the ALTB's operations.

The programme has been criticized over its 16-year history as being an expensive and technically problematic solution to the task of intercepting ballistic missiles during the boost phase.

The MDA originally planned to destroy the first ballistic target in 2005, but schedule delays postponed the event for nearly five years.

Boeing is the lead contractor for ABL, but Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin also provide major systems. The ABL is comprised of a chemical oxygen iodine laser, or COIL, as the weapon. The telescope is mounted in a bulbous nose assembly weighing 5,443kg (12,000lb).


Source: Flight International

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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2010, 02:05:09 am »

Airborne laser gets serious

The US Airborne Laser has successfully downed ballistic missiles.

Gary Parsons - 12-Feb-2010

February 12: The US Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) aboard the Boeing YAL-1 has successfully downed ballistic missiles fired from a ground station at San Nicolas Island in California.

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Both solid- and liquid-fuel missiles have been downed in tests in early February. Operating near Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Centre’s Weapons Division Sea Range off the central California coast, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said that within seconds of each missile launch, the ALTB used onboard sensors to detect the boosting missile and a low-energy laser to track the target. The ALTB then fired a second low-energy laser to measure and compensate for atmospheric disturbance. Finally the megawatt-class High Energy Laser was fired, heating the boosting ballistic missile to critical structural failure. The entire engagement was completed within two minutes of the missile launching.


Source: key.aero


* altb.jpg (83.24 KB, 900x600 - viewed 231 times.)
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2010, 02:24:01 am »

ABL Shoots Down Target, Engages Second

Feb 12, 2010
 
By Amy Butler abutler@aviationweek.com

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The U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Airborne Laser (ABL) has successfully engaged its first ballistic missile with its powerful chemical laser, shooting it down and demonstrating the concept of using high-powered lasers to destroy such threats in their boost phase of flight.

A series of flight tests included engagement of a single liquid-fueled ballistic missile and two solid-fueled Terrier Black Brant sounding rockets. Though not ballistic missiles, the rockets closely mimic a solid-fueled ballistic missile in the boost phase, the period in which ABL is expected to engage. And they offer a lower-cost alternative to launching actual short-range ballistic missile targets, according to Rick Lehner, an MDA spokesman.

During this long-awaited exercise Feb. 11, the 747-400F-based ABL testbed aircraft self-tracked a boosting liquid-fueled, short-range ballistic missile lofted from a mobile sea platform at 8:44 p.m. (PST) within seconds of launch. The onboard low-energy laser compensated for atmospheric disturbances and then the multimegawatt-class high-energy laser engaged the target, “heating the boosting ballistic missile to critical structural failure,” according to a statement from MDA officials. The engagement lasted about two minutes, the officials say.

Within one hour, MDA engaged the second target, a solid-fueled Terrier Black Brant, which was launched from a ground location. Lasing terminated prior to its destruction. MDA officials nonetheless say this demonstration “met all its test criteria,” but they do not cite a reason why the target was not fully lased to destruction.

The ABL did not land or reconstitute the chemicals used to form the laser between the two engagements.

This round, using the sounding rocket, was actually ABL’s third airborne target and its second airborne solid-fuel target engagement, according to MDA officials. The first was apparently quietly “destroyed” during a Feb. 3 flight test, according to MDA officials, though it is unclear why MDA is only just now acknowledging it.

ABL is designed to precisely lase the outer skin of a boosting missiles to prompt a failure in its structural integrity, destroying the target in flight.

These trials — previously expected last year — took place at a weapons range off of Point Mugu, Calif., and represent a leap forward for the ABL program. The Boeing-led effort has been challenged by numerous technical problems and cost overruns, although it has received much attention as the Pentagon’s flagship chemical laser program. As of last spring, about $4 billion had been spent on ABL. MDA is requesting another $99 million in Fiscal 2011 for directed energy projects, which includes funding for the ABL test bed, and for exploration of potential future applications.

This will be the last year MDA manages the system; following flight trials, it will be turned to the oversight of the Pentagon’s director of defense research and engineering to serve as a testbed for other laser projects.

These airborne shootdown tests were originally scheduled for 2002; most recently officials had hoped to execute it last fall.

Boeing officials noted the achievement, saying, “This experiment marks the first time a laser weapon has engaged and destroyed an in-flight ballistic missile, and the first time that any system has accomplished it in the missile’s boost phase of flight. ALTB [Airborne Laser Test Bed] has the highest-energy laser ever fired from an aircraft, and is the most powerful mobile laser device in the world.”

Northrop Grumman designed and built the high-energy chemical laser while Lockheed Martin supplied the beam control/fire control system for ABL.

There are no plans to produce this design, and as ABL has evolved Defense Dept. officials have become more interested in solid-state lasers. Still, MDA has left the door open to a possible operational system in the future that would build off the lessons learned from ABL.

Photo: MDA

Source: Aviation Week


* ABLTest-MissileDefenseAgency.jpg (3.97 KB, 250x150 - viewed 171 times.)
« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 02:42:39 am by dexy » Logged
dexy
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2010, 04:02:21 am »

Airborne Laser Testbed video:

<iframe width="640" height="385" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/MmkYcEcSLvA?fs=1&start=" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe>
« Last Edit: July 27, 2010, 02:01:41 pm by dexy » Logged
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