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EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering, Missile Defense director, announced Wednesday that the Airborne Laser's 1.7-meter-wide conformal window was successfully exposed during flight for the first time, a maneuver necessary for the weapon system to complete its mission of shooting down a ballistic missile during the boost phase.
The conformal window exposure occurred on May 17 during the 18th flight in the current test series for the ABL aircraft, YAL-1A. The window, which is shaped like a huge contact lens, took five years to manufacture and is one of the most complex optics ever developed. It is mounted in a rotating turret-ball assembly on the nose of the ABL aircraft. During takeoff and landing, the window is rotated into the "stowed" position where it is protected by a gasket and metal shield. During an operational mission, three of the four ABL lasers that propagate outside the aircraft, including the megawatt-class "killer" laser, are fired through the window
The Airborne Laser (ABL) is among the largest and most complex of the Missile Defense Agency’s high-energy laser projects. Once operational, ABL will consist of a chemical laser integrated into the fuselage of a modified Boeing 747-400F freighter aircraft. The system will be capable of eliminating ballistic missiles in their boost phase just seconds after they have been launched.
Controlled by a four-man team, each 747 will operate at altitudes of 40,000 feet or higher. Six infrared sensors positioned on the outside of the 747 (one each on the front and rear and two on each side) will give ABL the ability to.....
Originally posted by Thomas Crowne
Back to the topic. Want to know what went through my mind while reading this? I thought of the poor little technician who has to maintain the equipment. Could you imagine being the guy who scratches a lens that was 5 years in the making?
Due to the project’s increased visibility as a result of these delays and cost overruns, the ABL program has become a test of the maturity and feasibility of MDA’s other high-energy laser programs. Its success or failure will have a direct effect on the amount of future dollars spent on the research and development of additional laser weapons, such as the highly promising Space-Based Laser (SBL).