ST. LOUIS, 29 May 2008. The Boeing Company, industry teammates, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency completed the first laser activation testing for the Airborne Laser (ABL) missile defense program on the ground at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
"ABL's weapon system integration team has done a great job preparing the high-energy laser for activation testing, which will ensure each laser subsystem is brought on line sequentially and safely," says Scott
Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. "Laser installation and the start of laser activation move the program a giant step closer to ABL's missile shoot-down demonstration
planned for 2009."
The final plumbing and wiring installations will be completed in the coming weeks. All major components of the weapon system, including the battle management system, laser components, and beam control/fire control system, were installed earlier.
Laser activation testing ensures ABL's high-energy chemical laser has been properly integrated aboard the
aircraft and is ready to produce enough power to destroy a ballistic missile.
The tests flow water or other inert substances through
the laser to verify its integrity. Next, the laser's chemicals flow through the laser to confirm sequencing and control. When the activation tests are complete, ground firings of the laser will occur, followed by flight tests of the entire ABL weapon system. The test phase will culminate in an airborne intercept test against a
ballistic missile in 2009.
The ABL aircraft consists of a modified Boeing 747-400F whose back half holds the high-energy laser, designed and built by Northrop Grumman. The aircraft's front half contains the beam control/fire control system, developed by Lockheed Martin, and the battle management system, provided by Boeing.