ABL’s Full Court Press

Currently, the Airborne Laser, designated YAL-1A, is in Wichita, Kan., being outfitted to handle the chemical laser housings and having its optics system fine-tuned. Daniels said that plans for 2006 include low power active ground tests in August, in-flight atmospheric compensation testing with the track illuminated laser in November, and completion of its laser optics testing by Dec. 31. The aircraft will leave Kansas in 2007 for Edwards, where the airframe will be integrated with the chemical laser—making it, for the first time a “full-up weapon system,” said Daniels. After the program, Daniels noted that MDA has the backing and funding it needs to carry out a lethal demonstration in 2008 against a threat-representative ballistic missile—despite “significant budget pressures.”