Another Airborne Laser Milestone

Boeing announced Thursday that its industry team, together with the Missile Defense Agency, on Aug. 10 successfully completed the Airborne Laser’s first in-flight test against an instrumented ballistic missile target. The ABL, a modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft carrying a powerful laser to zap boosting missiles out of the sky, took off from Edwards AFB, Calif., and used its onboard sensors to find the target missile, which was launched from San Nicholas Island, Calif., and to prepare for the engagement. A surrogate high-energy kill laser aboard the aircraft was then fired, hitting the target missile, according to Boeing. Michael Rinn, Boeing’s ABL program director, said the test demonstrated that ABL “can fully engage an in-flight missile.” ABL engineers will continue to ramp up the testing until the entire weapon system, including its actual megawatt-class kill laser, is ready to go against a ballistic missile in a shootdown test later this year.