The Airborne Laser’s lethal shootdown demonstration will take place in August 2009, Boeing ABL program manager Greg Hyslop told reporters in Washington Tuesday afternoon at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. The high power integration is coming next year, and the ABL is scheduled for full system ground and flight testing between 2008 and 2009. Hyslop and Lockheed Martin’s ABL program director, Art Napolitano, both characterized the program as highly complex—in fact Napolitano said it has the most complicated optical system he’s seen in his more than 20 years in the industry. The Missile Defense Agency currently has money in its budget for a second ABL, noted Hyslop, but program officials earlier this year expressed great concern that Congress might derail the program.
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.