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Airborne Laser now Airborne Weapons Layer and not a Laser???

bobbymike

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USAF, MDA To Brief Congress On Airborne Weapons Layer By End Of June

Posted: Jun. 27, 2013

Air Force and Missile Defense Agency officials planned to give members of Congress a long-overdue briefing by the end of this week on the affordability and operational utility of the Defense Department's Airborne Weapons Layer, a derivative of the terminated Airborne Laser.

That briefing will cover the partial results of a long-running cost-benefit analysis being conducted by the two organizations.
Members of the House of Representatives included language in their version of the fiscal year 2014 defense authorization bill urging the Air Force and MDA to report on a cost-benefit analysis regarding the Airborne Weapons Layer (AWL), stating that "its results are now well overdue. The [House Armed Services Committee] urges the Missile Defense Agency and the Air Force to quickly complete this study and brief the congressional defense committees on the results." That bill was passed by the chamber earlier this month. Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy told Inside the Air Force in a June 21 email that the service and MDA intend to comply with that legislative requirement shortly. "There is congressional interest in the on-going AWL Cost/Benefit Analysis," Cassidy said. "The FY-13 National Defense Authorization Act directed the secretary of the Air Force and the director of the Missile Defense Agency to brief the congressional defense committees on findings to date. The briefing will be available to the defense committees by the end of June 2013."

The Defense Department declined to comment on the study's impact on programmatic and budgeting decisions -- which it is meant to help inform. "Because the AWL Cost/Benefit Analysis is incomplete, we cannot predict the results or their impact on future acquisition decisions," Cassidy said. The AWL, if implemented, would use modified missile interceptors or air-to-air missiles to destroy threatening munitions early in an enemy ballistic missile's flight profile, according to the congressional language. A 2009 study by the Air Force and MDA proved that an airborne layer was technically viable, operationally feasible and beneficial for ballistic missile defense but did not address its affordability, Cassidy said. The Air Force's most recent contracting documents related to the AWL, which grew out of the Airborne Laser program canceled in 2011, indicate that an airborne weapons layer would be patrolled by F-15 fighter jets or other combat aircraft in partnership with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense systems. But those documents date back to December 2011, around the time the Airborne Laser program was terminated. Slides presented to industry by MDA and Air Force officials show that the AWL could offer new attributes for ballistic missile defense, such as speed, range and responsiveness. The system, though, would necessarily divert Air Force aircraft from other roles and cost a significant amount, requiring a "diversion of resources from existing acquisition efforts." The Air Force representative who gave that briefing came from the strategy, concepts and wargaming branch of Air Force headquarters' operations, plans and requirements directorate.

In its legislation, the House noted "the technical and cost challenges associated with boost phase missile defense." The House Armed Services Committee also referenced "the absence of a boost phase missile defense program of record elsewhere in this report." Congressional Republicans in particular have been supportive of enhanced ballistic missile defense features, such as an East Coast missile site, even though military leaders have argued there is no validated requirement for such a site. -- Gabe Starosta
 

bobbymike

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Outgrowth of terminated laser system

DOD Revives Airborne Weapon Layer Program With Three Study Contracts

Posted: Nov. 07, 2013

The Air Force this week awarded three study contracts for a joint program with the Missile Defense Agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency called the Airborne Weapon Layer, a sign of continuing work toward shooting down enemy ballistic missiles early in their launch phase. The concept for AWL is derived from the former Airborne Laser program, which proposed utilizing a modified Boeing 747 commercial aircraft with a built-in chemical laser for the missile defense mission. That program was canceled in 2011after it was deemed unaffordable and not operationally viable. The Defense Department also conducted an airborne hit-to-kill study in 2009, of which AWL is a something of a continuation. In three separate and brief announcements on the Federal Business Opportunities website this week, the Air Force disclosed the award of study contracts for AWL to some of the defense industry's biggest names: Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. The value of the awards, around $284,000 each, was nearly identical in all cases. The awards to Raytheon Missile Systems and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control are dated Oct. 31 and were announced on Nov. 1. Boeing's is dated Nov. 1 and was issued on FBO on Nov. 4. The contract postings reveal little else other than to show that the contracting authority is an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center representative at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. The only AFLCMC directorate located at Eglin AFB is the program executive office for armament led by Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson.

Mark Schreffler, the Airborne Weapon Layer technical lead in the directorate's air superiority division, said in a Nov. 6 email provided by a service spokeswoman that these study contracts will run through June 2014. The intention behind them is to "shape the feasibility" of an airborne ballistic missile defense program of record, not start one immediately, he said. Eglin AFB's involvement in the studies, which Schreffler characterized as being led by DARPA, will advance counter-theater ballistic missile (TBM) "kill chain" concepts.

"Contractors will study total kill chain requirements for a low(er) cost counter-TBM capability," Schreffler wrote. "The key technologies for these efforts are sensors and propulsion (to include Divert [and] Attitude Control Systems). Since the study includes the entire kill chain, it will not only be the first to examine the total cost of ownership for this capability but also examine full system specifications required to accomplish the mission." Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed were selected to participate in the study because each submitted concepts to an Air Force and MDA cost-benefit analysis for AWL in 2011, he said, calling the three the natural leaders for this DARPA initiative. Inside the Air Force requested comment from all three companies about the scope and duration of their work under these study contracts. Each acknowledged having received a contract but deferred all questions to the Air Force.

Information on the status of AWL has been hard to come by over the last two years, even for members of Congress. The Air Force and MDA were scheduled to provide a briefing on the aforementioned AWL cost-benefit analysis to members of Congress before the end of June, a service spokeswoman told ITAF this summer. That had not occurred as of July 15, and Air Force officials at the Pentagon have ignored repeated requests for comment since that time. That briefing was "long overdue," members of the House Armed Services Committee wrote in their version of the fiscal year 2014 defense authorization bill that was passed by the full House several months ago. The Air Force's most recent and publicly available contracting documents related to the AWL indicate that an airborne weapon layer would be patrolled by F-15 fighter jets or other combat aircraft in partnership with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense systems. But those documents date back to December 2011, around the time the Airborne Laser was terminated.

Slides presented to industry by MDA and Air Force officials show that the AWL could offer new attributes for ballistic missile defense, such as speed, range and responsiveness, and that the layered system would use missiles, not lasers, as the munition of choice. The system, though, would necessarily pull Air Force aircraft away from other missions and cost a significant amount, requiring a "diversion of resources from existing acquisition efforts." The Air Force representative who gave that briefing came from the strategy, concepts and wargaming branch of Air Force headquarters' operations, plans and requirements directorate. The slides specifically name the F-15, F-35, B-1 bomber and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft as possible platforms for the weapons layer. Navy combat aircraft are possible options as well, and the program envisions a "proof of principle flight demonstration" within three years, putting that date at the end of calendar year 2014. Funding levels for the Airborne Weapons Layer program were not detailed in the unclassified budget requests the Air Force and MDA sent to Congress in April, indicating those requests are classified or arose after the budget was formally submitted. Schreffler said any follow-on work after these studies are completed will be determined by DARPA and the military services, which all have responsibilities within the Pentagon's ballistic missile defense system. "Should the government choose to go forward with a program, there will be a solicitation out to industry," he said. -- Gabe Starosta
 

bobbymike

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USAF Air Superiority Planners Move Forward On DARPA Seedling Studies


Posted: Dec. 12, 2013

Air Force officials managing a trio of Airborne Weapons Layer studies on behalf of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are moving forward on those analyses, with an emphasis on refining potential ballistic missile interceptor concepts, the service said in an interview with Inside the Air Force.

What follows the studies, though, will be determined by budget limitations and the results of a cost-benefit analysis that has been in the works for more than two years, as well as by DARPA's plans for its shadowy Future Air Dominance Initiative

As ITAF reported last month, the Air Force awarded study contracts for the Airborne Weapons Layer to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Those studies are funded by DARPA but managed by the Air Force through an existing broad area announcement.

In a Dec. 6 interview, Air Force officials Doug Rinell and Mark Schreffler described how those studies -- officially termed seedling studies -- fit into what the Pentagon is trying to accomplish with AWL, a concept meant to equip tactical fighter aircraft with missiles capable of intercepting and destroying or deviating enemy ballistic missiles as early in their flight trajectories as possible.

Rinell is the chief of the air superiority branch inside the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Armament Directorate's Armament Systems Development Division, and Schreffler is the AWL technical lead in the same division. Rinell described their main responsibility as "development planning" for new air superiority weapons being considered within the Air Force and Defense Department.

DARPA provides small amounts of funding for seedling studies to advance potentially useful military concepts and transition them to more formal phases of development, such as a technology demonstration or the development of a prototype system. The studies Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon are performing will focus on the intercept stage of the ballistic missile defense kill chain, Schreffler said. That is the stage that attracts the most attention, but the entire kill chain spans six distinct phases, Air Force senior policy analyst Mark Svestka has said. Those include finding a target, locking onto it or "fixing" it, tracking it, targeting it with a weapon, engaging or intercepting the target, and assessing

Schreffler said the studies are intended to allow contractors to explore and generate data about their concepts "that help bound the performance trades that could be made in an air-launched system." He referred questions about the long-term goals of the studies to DARPA, which refused to discuss any aspect of its Air Dominance Initiative with ITP.

"These studies will provide information that will aid the government in evaluating technologies that support the Future Air Dominance Initiative," Rinell wrote in a follow-up Dec. 10 email.

The Missile Defense Agency, which has a central role on AWL in conjunction with the Air Force, has little involvement with these studies but is aware of them, Rinell said.

In parallel to the studies, the Air Force and MDA are continuing to perform a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) on the Airborne Weapons Layer which will be instrumental in giving Pentagon leadership options for turning the AWL concept in a more formal program. Rinell and Schreffler said their staff has contributed information to that CBA.

"We've just been providing some of the Air Force expertise to the Air Staff and the MDA in support of the cost-benefit analysis, primarily on cost data for air-launched types of systems and also questions regarding integration of an air-launched weapon onto platforms," Schreffler said, adding that the division also does modeling and simulation. Rinell said part of the division's contribution has come from analyzing the projected and actual cost of past weapon systems that could be relevant to the Airborne Weapons Layer, and from talking to contractors who have done related work in the past.

That CBA began in August 2011, and its findings so far were briefed to congressional staff in late November. Asked if any other Airborne Weapons Layer activities, such as a live-fire demonstration, were being planned, Rinell acknowledged that budgetary restrictions today mean the cost-benefit analysis and the trio of DARPA studies is as far as the Pentagon is able to go for now. "That's the meat of what's going on until the MDA and the Air Force decide where they're going with the CBA," he said. -- Gabe Starosta
 

KJ_Lesnick

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My guess is that calling it an airborne laser for some reason has become unpopular, so they have redesignated it.
 

bobbymike

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MDAA Future Missile Defense Update

http://missiledefenseadvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/System-Brief-3-Future-BMD.pdf
 

bobbymike

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http://aviationweek.com/defense/pentagon-leaders-turn-heat-advanced-weapons

Sorry subscription needed but quick take away is; to take on large guided swarms of attacking missiles military not only developing lasers and railguns but adapting the railgun's guided munitions for use on artillery systems like the Paladin for air defense use.
 

bobbymike

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https://www.c4isrnet.com/land/2017/11/16/congress-signals-focus-of-ballistic-missile-defense-review-in-policy-bill/

Should have had brilliant pebbles, space based lasers and railguns by now.
 
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