Airborne Laser Leaves the Hangar

The system, mounted in a modified 747, is designed to track missiles in their boost phase.  Although it won’t be ready for test firing at a missile until 2008, it should be operational by the end of the decade.  And it looks cool.

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In a ceremony at the Boeing Co.’s Integrated Defense Systems facility in Wichita, the agency announced it was ready to flight test some of the low-power systems on the ABL aircraft, a modified Boeing 747-400F designed to destroy enemy missiles.

Lt. Gen. Henry “Trey” Obering III, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said he embraced early critics’ comparison of the laser-equipped plane to the Star Wars movies.

“I believe we are building the forces of good to beat the forces of evil. … We are taking a major step in giving the American people their first light saber,” Obering told dignitaries and employees gathered for the ceremony.

4 Comments

  1. A couple of years ago, I saw this show on one of the learning channels about this joint Japan-US program to develop this technology (I believe it was laser) that would explode in-coming artillery shells!!

    That could very well be an epoch changing invention if it ever works efficiently….

  2. THEL was an Israeli-US ground-based laser for shooting down artillery. Obviously, they didn’t use it against Lebanon.

    We’ve been using C-RAM in Iraq with some success against mortars. It’s based on the Naval 20mm Vulcan Phalanx, only mounted on a semi trailer.

    Lots of missile defense goodies coming out in the next few years…trying to get as much done before the next presidential election.

  3. The artillery shell buster I saw was on a tripod-like thing with a rotating head. I can’t think of what piece of equipment it looked similear too – the head. I’m not a tech guy AT ALL. It looked kind of like the guidance system stuff or …I don’t know. But it wasn’t big – the head or the whole tripod it was standing on. But if it could explode artillery shells, I’d think it would be revolutionary —- and if we could explode artillery shells in flight, why couldn’t we take out warheads? Aren’t they much bigger?

    Anyway — I haven’t heard much about this out in the popular public domain, but if these kinds of things are not that far off, I would imagine it will just push the industrial nations (who have money) that much beyond the non-high industrial ones that nonetheless can build somewhat of an army.

  4. USinKorea, I think the device you’re talking about put out a radio signal which caused artillery shells with proximity fuses to burst early…might have been called the “Shortstop.”

    Lots of good stuff out there. What really pisses me off is that the defense contractors keep a lot under wraps for years so they can continue to milk the cash cow of our current administration. Expect a lot more to come out in 2008, but not much afterwards.

    They’ll develop the stuff and just sit on it until the next big defense spending administration.

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