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Boeing progresses forward with the development of its airborne laser program

Boeing is working on a devastating new weapon which could strike fear into the eyes of all American enemies. The company is progressing at a rapid pace on its 12,000-pound airborne laser.

The Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) was installed into a C-130H gunship and Boeing is on track to begin in-flight tests of the weapon next year. Ground targets will be neutralized via the ATL which is incorporated into a rotating turret on the C-130H's belly.

The ATL is seen as a precise, high-power weapon that will result in less civilian causalities on the battlefield. Due to the nature of the laser being used, targets can be destroyed or disabled with extremely low levels of collateral damage. Boeing claims that the ATL is thus capable of being used on traditional battlefields or in more treacherous urban fighting.

"The installation of the high-energy laser shows that the ATL program continues to make tremendous progress toward giving the warfighter a speed-of-light, precision engagement capability that will dramatically reduce collateral damage," said Boeing Missile Defense Systems VP and GM Scott Fancher. "Next year, we will fire the laser at ground targets, demonstrating the military utility of this transformational directed energy weapon."

The ATL was developed in conjunction with Boeing’s Airborne Laser (ABL) which is fitted to a 747-400F freighter. While the ATL is aimed at destroying ground targets, the ABL is destined to fire upon ballistic missiles.

Boeing's ABL was deemed ready for flight testing in late October 2006 and successfully fired its targeting lasers at an airborne target on March 15, 2007. Boeing hopes to fire its high-energy laser at a ballistic missile in 2009.

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RE: So....
By Staples on 12/14/2007 10:02:51 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how these things will stack up against reflective surfaces, lets say a mirror. These things may be easily defeated. Lets not get carried away. Artilary still will be the king of the battlefield.

RE: So....
By Master Kenobi on 12/14/2007 10:18:30 AM , Rating: 3
Your vastly overstating the concept of a mirror. Easily defeated? No. Were not talking about a flash light, were talking about a megawatt class laser.

RE: So....
By Misty Dingos on 12/14/2007 10:20:12 AM , Rating: 2
Artillery may be the king of the battlefield now but it is quickly be supplanted by precision ordnance delivered by UAVs and manned aircraft.

Also these lasers are not nearly as susceptible to shiny surfaces as you would think. Plus it would be difficult to hide from the gunship when you are the shinyest thing out there.

Another offshoot of this laser technology is a laser point defense weapon for installations. Yes it's a laser to destroy incoming artillery rounds.

RE: So....
By Master Kenobi on 12/14/2007 10:24:54 AM , Rating: 2
I've read about a small scale one they mounted on a Hum-V that does just that. Interesting indeed, I can bet you that Israel would be first in line to get them too. Stick them on the border to shoot down the damn insurgent rockets.

RE: So....
By cleco on 12/19/2007 12:15:35 PM , Rating: 2
Its HMMWV :P High Mobility Multi purpose Wheeled Vehicle. Though those are going to get replaced with MRAT or w/e that badass is called. We called them Cougars.

RE: So....
By spluurfg on 12/20/2007 8:51:55 AM , Rating: 2

Joint US-Israeli project. Not a mobile yet, though, but definitely a proof of concept.

RE: So....
By Polynikes on 12/14/2007 1:07:26 PM , Rating: 2
Don't get me wrong, lasers are awesome, but UAVs can be shot down. Arty, miles away, is generally safe from attack, or at least a lot more safe than a UAV. That, in my mind, makes it more dependable. Arty and mortars also have another advantage, they're not direct-fire weapons, so you can lob them over obstacles to hit your target. Direct line of sight is not needed. Although I'm sure future battlefields will be rife with lasers, they won't be the end-all be-all. Old tech, just like having bodies on the ground, will always have its place, to some degree.

RE: So....
By therealnickdanger on 12/14/2007 1:18:17 PM , Rating: 2
Artillery and mortars will likely all be switched over to rail kinetics, while lasers take over for infantry and aeronautics. Heat-seekers and other conventional guided missiles/bombs will have their place for a long while to come, I'm sure. Laser weapons will eventually lead to anti-laser defenses, so there will have to be constant innovation and multiple options.

RE: So....
By 1078feba on 12/14/2007 4:59:23 PM , Rating: 2
Problem with indirect fire is that it can be tracked via radar and it's origin triangulated, and you have to deconflict the airspace as well. Not to mention that range becomes a very real problem. Indirect fire works just fine right now, but things get hairy on the Korean Peninsula and/or other places in the world where we would be up against superior numbers, lasers and rail weps could really tilt the ground in our favor.

What I really want are frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their foreheads.

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