Boeing announced today another successful test shoot of its Airborne Laser prototype.
This time technicians fired the laser using its tracking and control system to guide the beam through the nose-mounted turret at a simulated missile target.
Of course, this was all done on the ground.
It won't be until next year that the system will engage a missile target while both are in flight. But the news reminds us that behind the scenes, the ABL program -- and its offshoots -- are making quiet progress toward eventual fielding of a no-joke flying laser cannon.
Release follows in part:
During the test at Edwards Air Force Base, the laser beam traveled through the beam control/fire control system before exiting the aircraft through the nose-mounted turret. The beam control/fire control system steered and focused the beam onto a simulated ballistic-missile target.
"This test is significant because it demonstrated that the Airborne Laser missile defense program has successfully integrated the entire weapon system aboard the ABL aircraft," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. "With the achievement of the first firing of the laser aboard the aircraft in September, the team has now completed the two major milestones it hoped to accomplish in 2008, keeping ABL on track to conduct the missile shootdown demonstration planned for next year."
Michael Rinn, Boeing vice president and ABL program director, said the next step for the program is a series of longer-duration laser firings through the beam control/fire control system.
"Once we complete those tests, we will begin demonstrating the entire weapon system in flight," Rinn said. "The team is meeting its commitment to deliver this transformational directed-energy weapon system in the near term."