Laser on Board, Fuel Next

The Airborne Laser team has installed the high-energy laser aboard the modified Boeing 747-400F and is in the process of testing it with its chemical fuel, according to a July 28 release from Boeing. Earlier this month, Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, outgoing head of the Missile Defense Agency, said that ABL had proved all technical capabilities on the ground and was progressing well toward the planned live shootdown in 2009. Boeing said the chemical flow tests at Edwards AFB, Calif., would “confirm sequencing and control,” in preparation for firing the laser aboard the aircraft while on the ground. Mike Rinn, Boeing VP and ABL program director, said the team had “demonstrated enormous progress toward ushering in a new age of directed-energy weapons.” Northrop Grumman designed and built the laser; Lockheed Martin developed the beam control/fire control system; and Boeing developed the battle management system.