Monday, January 29, 2007

Airborne Laser To Test In Flight

I was about to get all excited about this, but it turns out the only lasers to be tested in the near future are the two solid state "beam control" and "tracking" lasers. The high-powered COIL laser is yet to be installed.
The YAL-1A, a modified Boeing 747-400F known as the Airborne Laser, will test-fire its low-power laser in flight for the first time as part of a long-term test phase at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., according to an Air Force report.

The Airborne Laser, part of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System, is designed to identify, track and shoot down enemy ballistic missiles shortly after they launch.

In the current test phase, which is happening throughout the next several months, the ABL will fire its two solid-state illuminator lasers at the NC-135E “Big Crow” test aircraft to verify the ABL’s ability to track an airborne target and measure atmospheric turbulence.

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