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Image courtesy AP
The US Missile Defense Agency is progressing smoothly with its ABL

The United States Missile Defense Agency has pulled the wraps off its ABL (Airborne Laser) YAL-1A aircraft. The ABL YAL-1A, which is a modified Boeing 747-400F, packs a high-energy laser developed by Lockheed Martin, a tracking illuminator designed by Raytheon and a Northrop Grumman beacon illuminator.

Recent testing conducted on the ground demonstrated the capabilities of some of the low-power systems used in the ABL aircraft:

  • Verifying the alignment of the optical components that guide the lasers to the designated target
  • Demonstrating the end-to-end capability to control and fire the illuminator lasers
  • Demonstrating the ability of the beam control/fire control system and the Boeing-developed battle management system to track and target a ballistic missile, using a simulated target
  • Proving the ability to control a low-power surrogate for the high-energy laser and fire it at a simulated target

"The results of the testing underscore the soundness of our technical approach. We functionally demonstrated ABL's ability to locate and track a target, illuminate the target to compensate for atmospheric disturbances and then precisely focus a surrogate laser beam on the target to destroy it," said Art Napolitano, ABL program director.

Next up for the ABL program is to perform in-flight testing of the beam control/fire control system. The high-energy laser used to shoot down incoming missiles will be installed into the aircraft next year while a missile shoot-down test is scheduled for 2008.



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*cough*
By Welldone on 10/31/06, Rating: 0
RE: *cough*
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2006 11:41:56 AM , Rating: 5
Yes. That was the plan. Build a several hundred million dollar match. You got the US government figured out man.


RE: *cough*
By Clienthes on 10/31/2006 12:27:11 PM , Rating: 3
Forests really aren't that tough to locate and track. I wonder why they're so excited :/


RE: *cough*
By Burning Bridges on 10/31/2006 2:56:48 PM , Rating: 3
This is obviously the first lazer that can tell the wood from the trees!


RE: *cough*
By jskirwin on 10/31/2006 1:06:57 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
then put the guilty on emerging countries, and finally take possession of them?


Why you're so smart, I think I'll call you "Sunshine."

Just like we did with Germany, France, UK, Mexico, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan. We sure ground them under the tracks of American Imperialism - didn't we?

Reading the multi-millionaire Chomsky, again, haven't we Sunshine?





RE: *cough*
By therealnickdanger on 10/31/2006 2:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
That's hilarious. Good ol' Chumpsky...

Back on topic, this is dang cool. I wonder how long before we have an active laser-based missile defense grid? 10 years? Laser sniper rifles? Wow, I think I just scared my self a little bit. No bullet, no mess, no nothing. Just a stealth drone outfitted with one of these flying around using face-recognition software to identify and kill off Al Quaeda from 30,000 feet.

Or just move right to satellites...


RE: *cough*
By tacorly on 10/31/2006 2:16:18 PM , Rating: 1
are you fucking stupid


this for real?
By Pwnt Soup on 10/31/2006 2:46:31 PM , Rating: 2
if this works, and i hope it does, the practical aplications for it are almost unlimited. if it can target and hit an icbm, why couldent it be used to target a much slower moving target like a plane ship or tank? or how about someone elses spy satilite? weather or not you are rite or left politicaly, we should all be thankfull that this country has the ability too develop devices like this. after 9-11 and whats going on in korea and iran. this is what me need too keep us safe. i only hope its for real and not a red hearing ment too distract attention from something else.




RE: this for real?
By saratoga on 10/31/2006 3:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure it'll work eventually. Unlike kinetic ABMs, the latest generation of laser based antibalistics are shaping up nicely. Some of the videos of Youtube and Google video are insane, with various systems shooting down multiple concurrent projectiles.

I doubt they'll be popular for antiaircraft or ships for a long time though. Lasers like that are quite expensive compared to a conventional missle, and don't require a vulernable 747 as a platform.


RE: this for real?
By judasmachine on 10/31/2006 6:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
With an escort of a couple of F-22s, or JSFs that 747 won't be too vulnerable. So long as the escorts take out any SAM sites or what have ya.


RE: this for real?
By judasmachine on 10/31/2006 6:23:01 PM , Rating: 2
Although that also ups the price of any mission. Lasercraft+Escorts+AWACS+Ground Command = Pricey.


RE: this for real?
By saratoga on 10/31/2006 11:10:06 PM , Rating: 2
Thats the thing. If you've already got a squadron of strike craft, why have the laser platform? Just use missles.


RE: this for real?
By Samus on 11/1/2006 6:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
They will eventually mount ABM lasers to F111/F117A Stealth Bombers, so they won't need an escort...they'll be invisible except when the system is hot.

This is great technology, nice to see some of these contractors are actually making progress with the ABM program. The previous applications of this technology, such as ICBM ground defense, had a 10% success rate.


RE: this for real?
By timmiser on 11/2/2006 3:45:19 AM , Rating: 2
You make it sound like the 747 has to fly in enemy airspace to be effective. :)


Next up
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2006 10:42:28 AM , Rating: 2
Sharks with lasers strapped to their heads to destroy enemy subs. :)

Seriously. I think this technology is great and could go a long way towards protecting the US and our troops on the ground in various countries. With a few of these planes we could shoot down any attempted ballistic missile strike on our troops or targeted at the US.




RE: Next up
By Aikouka on 10/31/2006 10:59:39 AM , Rating: 2
Haha, looks like we both had the same movie idea there ;) Now, if only they'd paint the planes with a WWII-esque shark design and put the laser above the cockpit window!

There's a lot of nice technology coming out soon or in the works to help defend or save lives. UAV will probably be the next big thing if it can get off the ground... heh, such a bad pun.


RE: Next up
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2006 4:31:28 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously not everyone can take the joke like you since I got rated down for that post....


RE: Next up
By Aikouka on 11/1/2006 11:37:54 AM , Rating: 3
Bah, I hate to go off topic, but things like that've been bothering me for awhile now.

Why do we even have the ability to mod posts when people abuse it so much. Sure, it helps get rid of the "First Post!" remarks, but other than that? I see people modding down posts because they may disagree with their opinion on the topic at hand. That isn't the point of the system! Just because your opinion differs does not mean the post isn't worth reading.

Also, just because someone throws a joke in the beginning to make their comment a bit light-hearted and then goes into a discussion over the article... why do they receive a demod for such? Did someone find their joke a bit lame? Surely you've told a lame joke in your life before ;). (I know I'm guilty as charged).

So all I'm trying to say is... people, lay off on the opinionated/malevolent demodding. Any post that receives a 0 or -1 should be something like "FIRST POST!!!11!!" or "SONY SUXXX!!" not someone explaining something! I've looked through my ratings and found a post of mine where I explained what someone's comment meant, because others posted comments based on wrong interpretations... and my comment had a 0 rating! Purely rediculous.


RE: Next up
By oTAL on 11/7/2006 4:17:08 PM , Rating: 2
I partly agree with you.
I do like the system and I don't think it is at fault. What I think is at fault is the users... It's pretty hard to be a regular poster and have an average rating over 2. I've had some downmodded posts with hardly any reason for it... But I do enjoy the ability to down post someone who is writing garbage like he knows what he is talking about... it allows other people to be easily alerted by the low score.


Oh yeah!
By monkey3ddd on 10/31/2006 10:40:03 AM , Rating: 2
Controlled by a track ball?




RE: Oh yeah!
By allnighter on 10/31/2006 12:03:35 PM , Rating: 2
Heck no! KB/M baby, got to get that edge in FPS!


RE: Oh yeah!
By pnyffeler on 10/31/2006 12:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
It's "Real Genius" coming to reality!

"Put simply, in deference to you Kent, it's like lasing a stick of dynamite."

"That's hotter than the sun!"

The world's need for popcorn will finally be solved.


RE: Oh yeah!
By Creig on 10/31/2006 7:40:55 PM , Rating: 2
I always knew this day would arrive. All those years of playing Missile Command as a kid are about to get me a job with the military.


Whoops!
By Combatcolin on 10/31/2006 12:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
Would you want to live anywhere near the test area for this puppy?

"I'm sorry Sir, we missed and took out your house, - on the plus isde it does display a promising 1st test"




RE: Whoops!
By Aikouka on 10/31/2006 12:42:39 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly, with as much pre-trial testing goes into these types of things... it'd be surprising if it failed like that. So if houses were cheap next to the test facility, sign me up, I'd get to see this nifty thing live ;).


RE: Whoops!
By kkwst2 on 10/31/2006 6:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
That's a great point. I think you should start putting big mirrors on your roof now, just in case. Just remember to give 'em a good shine every couple days.

I think right now these things work by heating and exploding the rocket's fuel tank, so your house is likely safe. But just in case, get those mirrors ready ;)


future proof?
By Wolfnight on 11/1/2006 4:53:32 AM , Rating: 2
Hmmm...So what happens when they start coating missiles with a light refletive surface?




RE: future proof?
By DrDisconnect on 11/1/2006 8:51:36 AM , Rating: 2
You are quite right although several different techniques can be used. ie.
1) Coatings reflective to the wavelength of laser being used, it doesn't have to be "glossy"
2) Materials that vaporize under the laser and delay burn through, like the shields on some re-entry vehicles of old
3) The missiles can rotate as they fly to spread the heating from the laser.
Military trials are often like shooting fish in a barrel. That is to say under ideal conditions to help promote further investment or a sale. Reminds me of the stealth bomber which works fine only as long as it is ground based radar looking for it. They don't talk about how it fares versus airborne radar.


RE: future proof?
By timmiser on 11/2/2006 3:52:38 AM , Rating: 2
It is more about the focus of the laser. For example, a CD/DVD is very reflective but the laser reads it just fine.


laser cruisers
By PrimarchLion on 10/31/2006 4:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully we've been pretty balanced on the tech tree. I expect some nuclear propulsion after this. Then all we have to do is start queuing up the laser space cruisers and those alien newbs won't know what hit'em.




RE: laser cruisers
By Dfere on 11/2/2006 9:38:02 AM , Rating: 2
"Tech Tree"????. Thise Rise of Nations or Civilization?


Great addition!
By jonmcc33 on 10/31/2006 10:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
Perfect for the "war on terror". We'll be able to zap the C4 right off of their suicide bomb vests!




RE: Great addition!
By saratoga on 10/31/2006 11:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing they're think Korea 2.0 for this sort thing.


New toy
By mindless1 on 11/1/2006 5:40:11 PM , Rating: 2
So considering how many missle attacks we've seen, it seems yet another new toy for terrorists. Used to be you held the plane and passengers hostage, then it was crashing the plane, then crashing it into something bigger, and now it's hijacking it so you can take the laser and wipe out everything on the ground as you fly along.




RE: New toy
By mindless1 on 11/1/2006 5:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
I did not mean to suggest I condone terrorism in any way nor make light of it, but instead it seems allowing companies to arm themselves in public skies is a bad idea.


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