SpaceJibe

February 12, 2010

U.S. successfully tests airborne laser on missile

Filed under: Gadgets, Government Policies, Military — bferrari @ 11:32 am

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) – A U.S. high-powered airborne laser weapon shot down a ballistic missile in the first successful test of a futuristic directed energy weapon, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Friday.

Boeing's first successful live laser test - shoots missle down!

Boeing's first successful live laser test - shoots missle down!

The agency said in a statement the test took place at 8:44 p.m. PST (11:44 p.m. EST) on Thursday /0444 GMT on Friday) at Point Mugu’s Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off Ventura in central California.

“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 agency said.

The high-powered Airborne Laser system is being developed by Boeing Co., (BA.N) the prime contractor, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

Boeing produces the airframe, a modified 747 jumbo jet, while Northrop Grumman (NOC.N) supplies the higher-energy laser and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) is developing the beam and fire control systems.

“This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform,” the agency added.

The airborne laser weapon successfully underwent its first in-flight test against a target missile back in August. During that test, Boeing said the modified 747-400F aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base and used its infrared sensors to find a target missile launched from San Nicolas Island, California.

The plane’s battle management system issued engagement and target location instructions to the laser’s fire control system, which tracked the target and fired a test laser at the missile. Instruments on the missile verified the system had hit its mark, Boeing said.

The airborne laser weapon is aimed at deterring enemy missile attacks and providing the U.S. military with the ability to engage all classes of ballistic missiles at the speed of light while they are in the boost phase of flight.

“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 (miles), and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies,” the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.

The business end

The business end

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MDA

10-NEWS-0002
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.

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