Link to video of Airborne Laser Test


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21 April 2009
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Hmm, sure seemed to take awhile to destroy whatever they were targeting.
We can't say how well the test went because we don't know what the objective was. Maybe the test was to make sure the laser could remain locked on target for a given period of time. Whatever the case, I never really I thought I would live to see the day that actual lasers would become real weapons.
It was not a test of the megawatt class laser but a tracking test of the system at a lower power.

From the Missile Defense Agency website

February 11, 2010
Airborne Laser Testbed Successful in Lethal Intercept Experiment
The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile. The experiment, conducted at Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off the central California coast, serves as a proof-of-concept demonstration for directed energy technology. The ALTB is a pathfinder for the nation’s directed energy program and its potential application for missile defense technology.

At 8:44 p.m. (PST), February 11, 2010, a short-range threat-representative ballistic missile was launched from an at-sea mobile launch platform. Within seconds, the ALTB used onboard sensors to detect the boosting missile and used a low-energy laser to track the target. The ALTB then fired a second low-energy laser to measure and compensate for atmospheric disturbance. Finally, the ALTB fired its megawatt-class High Energy Laser, heating the boosting ballistic missile to critical structural failure. The entire engagement occurred within two minutes of the target missile launch, while its rocket motors were still thrusting.

This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform. The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometers, and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies.

Less than one hour later, a second solid fuel short-range missile was launched from a ground location on San Nicolas Island, Calif. and the ALTB successfully engaged the boosting target with its High Energy Laser, met all its test criteria, and terminated lasing prior to destroying the second target. The ALTB destroyed a solid fuel missile, identical to the second target, in flight on February 3, 2010.
I found this laser blast to be much more satisfying.....
Next Test Set for End of the Month

ABL Update

With the Airborne Laser's next shoot-down attempt of a boosting ballistic missile target due to take place by the end of next month, the system recently went through a "continuing series of calibration and targeting tests," Missile Defense Agency spokesman Rick Lehner tells sister publication Inside Missile Defense. The tests took place between July 23 and Aug. 1 in an area "out over the Pacific off Point Mugu and vicinity," Lehner said. No missile intercepts were attempted during the tests, he added.
Airborne Laser Intercept Test Scheduled For Tonight

DefenseAlert, Aug. 17, 2010 -- The Pentagon's Airborne Laser program is scheduled for an intercept attempt against a boosting ballistic missile target tonight at a range twice the distance from the previous shoot-down in February, according to the head of the Missile Defense Agency
Missile Defense Laser Test Delayed
Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010

A test of the U.S. Airborne Laser system was delayed yesterday by technical difficulties, the Missile Defense Agency announced (see GSN, Aug. 17).

The exercise called for operators to attempt to destroy a mock short-range ballistic missile by firing a directed energy beam from a converted Boeing 747 in flight off the coast of California. However, it had to be pushed back "due to a problem with the tracking camera cooling system," the Defense Department branch said in a press release. "Repairs to the system could not be completed to meet available range times."

The test is now expected to occur Saturday (U.S. Missile Defense Agency release, Aug. 18).
'Mini Me' Version of Airborne Laser?:

The Airborne Laser Test Bed is "a remarkable physics experiment, but operationally, it’s a challenge," says the Pentagon's top scientist. Because the 747-based ALTB is far too big and complex to be operationally viable, the Defense Department is pursuing smaller-sized lasers—in particular solid-state designs—that would fit onto "much, much smaller platforms" that are more feasible for real-world use, Zachary Lemnios, director of defense research and engineering, told reporters in Washington, D.C., Thursday. "We are going to see tens, if not hundreds, of kilowatts of solid-state lasers in the next six-to-eight months," he said. Lemnios said the Air Force and DARPA are funding "a number of projects" that use the test bed to validate other high-powered laser concepts. His comments came as preparations are under way for the next ALTB shootdown test, perhaps as soon as Saturday. (For more on ALTB, see What’s Next for the Airborne Laser from the April issue of Air Force Magazine.)
Lights Out For The Airborne Laser
Dec 21, 2011
By Amy Butler

After nearly 16 years of development and more than $5 billion spent, culminating in a series of ballistic missile target engagements, the Pentagon has finally decided to mothball the Boeing-led 747-400F project known as the Airborne Laser.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is now looking toward a new generation of lasers that could operate on unmanned vehicles at very high altitudes owing to advancements in laser technology, power generation and beam control work made possible in part by the foundation laid in the ABL years.

The program was established by the U.S. Air Force in the 1990s with an aim of employing a multi-megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) to burn through the propulsion systems of boosting ballistic missile targets, sending the rockets and their potentially lethal payloads raining back down upon the area from which they were launched.

Despite finally shooting down its first target last year, ABL has cratered under the substantial funding required for its work, cost-prohibitive and improbable employment scenarios and, most recently, pressure on the Pentagon budget resulting from growing national debt............................


MDA Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly is now focused on a new generation of laser systems with “much denser capability or greater power lasers in smaller packages and operating at much higher altitudes,” he told a gathering hosted by the Huntsville, Ala., Chamber of Commerce Dec. 12. This, he says, will simplify future designs.

“We do believe we are very close … within a few years of having a prototype that will actually operate out of an unattended air vehicle at very high altitudes,” O’Reilly said. “We basically have a horse race going on between several different technologies [and] all of them are very promising.” He predicts that “we have that capability to achieves something with a very high-altitude UAV over this decade.”


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