ABL Airborne Laser system proves laser targeting illuminator laser in tests

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., 14 Aug. 2009. Northrop Grumman Corp. engineers who are developing the high power laser for the Airborne Laser (ABL) laser weapon have proven the ABL's laser targeting illuminator laser in recent tests.

Aug 14th, 2009

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., 14 Aug. 2009. Northrop Grumman Corp. engineers who are developing the high power laser for the Airborne Laser (ABL) laser weapon have proven the ABL's laser targetingilluminator laser in recent tests.

The laser targeting system is called the Beacon Illuminator Laser (BILL), one of the low-power lasers onboard the ABL aircraft, which has been a steady and reliable, if unsung, contributor to the directed energy weapon system's performance during ground-based and in-flight tests.

As part of ABL's targeting system, the BILL military laser has been fired 282 times during recent high-power tests, 49 of which occurred in flight., Northrop Grumman officials say.

Much of the story about the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's ABL weapons grade laser has centered on the missile-killing high energy laser, which continues to draw attention whenever it's fired.

The BILL kilowatt-class, illuminator laser measures atmospheric conditions, a critical task that allows compensation for atmospheric turbulence by the beam control/fire control system that points and focuses the high energy laser's beam on its target.

Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) designed and developed the solid-state or electrically powered BILL and the megawatt-class, high-energy chemical laser on ABL.

"BILL helps solve the problem of a laser beam traversing the turbulent atmosphere between the jet aircraft and the target in flight," says Steve Hixson, vice president of advanced concepts-space and directed energy systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

"Due in part to BILL, ABL focused a surrogate high-energy laser on a boosting target, showing the incredible precision and maturity of the weapon system's technology."

"Key to BILL's success has been its ability to maintain consistent power levels throughout ground and in-flight testing. Such stellar performance gives us very high confidence that we have made great strides toward reducing certain risks associated with this revolutionary directed energy weapon system," says Guy Renard, Northrop Grumman ABL program manager.

For more information contact the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector online at www.northropgrumman.com.

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