ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., 16 June 2009. The Boeing Company and the U.S. Air Force on June 13 fired the high-power laser aboard the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) aircraft for the first time in flight.
During the test, ATL took off from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and fired its laser while flying over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., hitting a target board located on the ground.
ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Air Force, is a C-130H aircraft equipped with a chemical laser, a beam control system, sensors, and weapon-system consoles.
"This test is a major step toward bringing directed energy capability to the warfighter," says Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems. "We have demonstrated that an airborne system can fire a high-power laser in flight and deliver laser beam energy to a ground target. ATL's ultra-precision engagement capability will dramatically reduce collateral damage."
More tests are planned to demonstrate ATL's military utility, such as the ability to destroy, damage, or disable targets with little to no collateral damage. These demonstrations support development of systems that will conduct missions on the battlefield and in urban operations,says a representative.
The Boeing-led ATL industry team includes L-3 Communications/Brashear, which built the laser turret; HYTEC Inc., which made a variety of the weapon system's structural elements; and J.B. Henderson, which provides mechanical integration support.