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USMDA-led Airborne Laser Test Bed weapon system fails to hit target
Missile Defense Agency
Posted On: Oct 22, 2010
The ALTB weapon system had destroyed a short-range ballistic missile (left) during its first test in February this year. A USMDA photo
POINT MUGU, CALIFORNIA (BNS):
In second such attempt within a span of over a month, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA)-led test of the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) has ended in failure.
The ALTB, which uses a modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft as its platform to detect and destroy ballistic missile, was test-launched from the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off the central California coast on Thursday morning.
The objective of the mission was for the ALTB to destroy a solid-fuel, short-range ballistic missile while its rocket motors were still thrusting, the MDA said.
While the ALTB acquired and tracked the plume (rocket exhaust) of the Terrier Black Brant target missile, it could “never transition to active tracking. Therefore, the high energy lasing did not occur,” the Missile Defence Agency said in a statement.
The agency said it will probe the causes of the transition failure, while adding that the intermittent performance of a valve within the laser system was being examined.
This is the second time that the weapon system’s test has ended in failure. The MDA had tested the ALTB on September 1, 2010 which got terminated mid-way due to a software glitch.
The Airborne Laser Test Bed system featuring battle management equipment, a beam control/fire control system, and a high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL), uses a modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft to track and destroy ballistic missile.
While Boeing, the prime contractor of the programme, produces the airframe, Northrop Grumman provides the high-energy laser and Lockheed Martin is developing the beam- and fire-control systems.
The MDA and Boeing had successfully tested the ALTB weapon system on February 11, 2010. During that test, the laser-based weapon had tracked and destroyed a boosting ballistic missile.
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