Boeing Airborne Laser Completes Laser Ground Tests
ST. LOUIS, December 12, 2005, Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced today that its Airborne Laser team successfully completed a series of tests involving its high energy laser at the Systems Integration Lab at Edwards Air Force Base, California. During this test series, lasing duration and power were demonstrated at levels suitable for the destruction of multiple classes of ballistic missiles. This is the second of two program significant knowledge points planned for 2005.
Airborne Laser's (ABL) megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) lasing tests included more than 70 separate lasing events. The laser has been operated at simulated altitude, and achieved steady state operations under full optical control.
In July 2005, the ABL team completed the year's first knowledge point, which was flight testing of the system's passive mission payload at Edwards Air Force Base. During those tests, the team demonstrated the stability and alignment of the two Beam Control and Fire Control optical benches with the turret. That test also demonstrated the system's pointing and vibration control functions, as well as its ability to acquire targets as directed by the battle management segment.
With the completion of the above milestones for 2005, the program now proceeds to integrated systems testing. The ABL YAL-1A aircraft has transitioned to Boeing's Wichita facility to undergo final aircraft modifications for installation of the High Energy Laser modules and to begin Low Power System Integration-Active ground and flight testing. During active testing, the kilowatt-class illuminator lasers will be integrated and tested to demonstrate target acquisition, fine tracking, pointing and atmospheric compensation. Upon completion of active testing, the YAL-1 will return to Edwards Air Force Base for installation of the High Energy Laser, which will be removed from the System Integration Laboratory. This will be followed by extensive ground and flight weapon systems testing on the aircraft.
The ABL consists of a megawatt-class, high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser placed on a Boeing 747-400 aircraft. ABL is a component of the Missile Defense Agency's overall ballistic missile defense architecture. In operation, the ABL's sensor system is intended to autonomously detect and track an enemy's boosting missile, determine its position and destroy it with the high energy laser. The ABL's sensor system also identifies the launch location and predicts the impact location, which is communicated to other elements in the missile defense architecture.