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The Boeing-led Airborne Laser team announced today the successful completion of a series of tests involving its high energy laser at the Systems Integration Lab at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. During this test series, lasing duration and power were demonstrated at levels suitable for the destruction of multiple classes of ballistic missiles. This is the second of two program significant knowledge points planned for 2005.
Airborne Laser's (ABL) megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) is designed and built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC). Lasing tests included more than 70 separate lasing events. The laser has been operated at simulated altitude, and achieved steady state operations under full optical control.
In July 2005, the ABL team completed the year's first knowledge point, which was flight testing of the system's passive mission payload at Edwards Air Force Base. During those tests, the team demonstrated the stability and alignment of the two Beam Control and Fire Control optical benches with the turret. That test also demonstrated the system's pointing and vibration control functions, as well as its ability to acquire targets as directed by the battle management segment.
Originally posted by ch1466
The last bit has /always/ bothered me in that you have these GIANT optics trains used for beam path generation and steering and then you have this little rinky-dink LANTIRN pod mod doing the tracking of high altitude targets.
Now, admittedly, the typical ballistic missile is NOT exactly a hard target to acquire but LANTIRN is a gen-II /at best/ system which is to say mechanical scan off a limited number of detectors with next to nothing in the way of high end preprocessing and not even what I would call great reliability on the gimbals or dewar.
And given the ABL also has proposed mission as an 'escort' for E-platforms and even longrange OCA kill of aircraft and conventional (in atmosphere) missiles.
If they have lied to us about the nature and capabilities of optical systems to the extent that 200-400km tracking kills of _small_, _cool_, targets is possible.
Then we need to have a serious discussion about what else our much vaunted military is flat out fabricating for threat vs. capability (stealth for one).
As is, it seems that the obvious question is how soon we will see large scale diode-pumped, 'digital', lasers come online and what, if any, strip-and-refit options are available to bring the AL-1's up to spec in ten years. Because it seems to me that what this system, with it's limited 30-40 shot capability is really doing is setting us up for MASSIVE attacks. Even in theaters where nominally (DF-15/30) there are already more than sufficient shooters to make a (Missile Interdicted) Cuba out of Taiwan.
It's only when lasing gets to be truly 'free and infinite' that you can start to do force-on-force modeling as a function of creating viable doctrine (and acquisition) plans rather than gee-whiz techn demos.
Lastly, in one of the early Av Leak articles, they once said that this system was in fact /so/ powerful that they had to 'check behind the target' to make sure that secondary aircraft and even satellites were not under crossed-LOS threat.
If so, anything we do or don't do with this proto-DEW had better have a /lot/ of weight of meritous commitment or denial. Because these are like unto useable nukes for proliferation threat. And particularly if you can scale the technology to ground basing with a 20-100 (relay mirrors) WEZ spread, conventional airpower (non sacrificial, high altitude) will be utterly KT Boundaried within a decade or two.
And that hurts U.S. more than anyone who rapidly reverse engineers the engineering.