Boeing has been working an Airborne Laser Testbed
(ALTB) for quite some time and so far, the program has been
successful. Earlier this month, the ALTB aircraft was able
target and destroy a liquid-fueled short-range
threat-representative ballistic missile. The missile was destroyed
while boosting after being hit by the megawatt-class high-energy
laser. The next target for live tests for the system was a solid fuel
missile fired an hour after the liquid fuel missile was destroyed.
The solid fuel missile was destroyed by the laser as well.With
the program spanning many years and now proving to be effective in
the field, many would expect the Air Force to be salivating at the
thought of fielding a fleet of missile killing laser aircraft.
However, General Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff has quashed any
notions of moving to production for a fleet of airborne laser (ABL)
said while testifying before the House Armed Services Committee
this week that the ABL test was "a magnificent technical
achievement," reports DefenseTech.
He went on to say that the ABL "does not represent something
that is operationally viable."
reason for the statement is that Schwartz believes that the "future
coin of the realm" will be solid-state lasers rather than the
chemical laser that Boeing designed for the ABL program.
Boeing system was first deemed ready
for flight-testing in October of 2006 and the first shoot
down test was originally scheduled for 2008. In December of 2008, the
Boeing system was able to fire
its laser beam through its beam control guidance system for
the first time.
costs for the airborne laser program have totaled $8.2 billion
to the Daily