Boeing officials expect the Advanced Tactical Laser to move from an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program overseen by Air Force Research Lab elements at Kirtland AFB, N.M., to an “extended user evaluation,” conducted primarily by weapons developers at the Air Armament Center at Eglin AFB, Fla. Boeing’s ATL program director, Cliff Hall, told the Daily Report Friday that “they’re still working the requirements of what that really means.” The evaluation will move the ATL along in the process of becoming a full acquisition program. “The Air Force has established a 6.3 program element line in the ’08 budget request,” Hall said. “That’s intended to support the extended user evaluation.” If all goes well, “they’re working towards a 2010 [program objective memorandum] line for ATL,” he said. Hall and Boeing spokesperson Marc Selinger told us that the ATL demonstration effort is on track for completion this year, and they don’t anticipate any significant “stopping points” on the road to getting this “very complicated weapons system” working with the warfighter.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.