EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., 15 Aug. 2009. Lockheed Martin officials announced that the Beam Control/Fire Control system for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's Airborne Laser (ABL) has focused and directed a low-power laser beam in an engagement with an instrumented, boosting missile target, resulting in a simulated intercept.
In a flight test Aug. 10 aboard ABL's modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft, the Lockheed Martin-developed Beam Control/Fire Control system aimed a low-power laser beam generated by a Surrogate High Energy Laser at an instrumented target missile, called a Missile Alternative Range Target Instrumentation (MARTI).
The tests also involved the Battle Management System developed by Boeing, ABL's prime contractor. This test demonstrated the functionality of the ABL system, with the low-power laser serving as a surrogate for the Northrop Grumman-developed megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL).
"The Beam Control/Fire Control System has once again proven its capabilities in flight," says Mark Johnson, ABL program director, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. "Completing the low-power flight testing against an instrumented boosting target is a testament to the readiness of ABL's Beam Control/Fire Control system. We demonstrated the necessary pointing accuracy for reliable acquisition, tracking, and atmospheric compensation to achieve shoot-down later this year. The outstanding performance of the government and industry team continues to keep the program on track."
In preparation for this low-power MARTI test, the ABL team conducted a series of tests including low-power tracking tests against non-instrumented boosting Terrier-Lynx target missiles June 6 and June 13.
The Beam Control/Fire Control system next will be tested in high-power flight operations. A series of ABL testing scenarios will culminate in an airborne intercept test against an unarmed, boosting ballistic missile target later this year.