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USMDA tests Airborne Laser Test Bed weapons system
Missile Defense Agency
Posted On: Sep 14, 2010
The Boeing 747-400F aircraft. A Boeing photo
POINT MUGU, CALIFORNIA (BNS):
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has recently conducted the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) weapons system test.
The Flight Experiment Laser (FEL-01b) mission was conducted at the Point Mugu flight test range off the Southern California coast on September 1.
The ALTB’s intended target was to track and destroy a liquid-fuel, short-range ballistic missile during its boost phase.
“During the mission the Boeing 747 flying laser laboratory detected and tracked the target. However, the experiment terminated early when corrupted beam control software steered the high energy laser slightly off centre,” the MDA said.
While the agency is looking into the causes of failure, “preliminary indications are that a communication software error within the system that controls the laser beam caused misalignment of the beam. The ALTB safety system detected this shift and immediately shut down the high energy laser,” the agency said in a statement.
The agency plans to resume flight experiments beginning with tests of the software repair on September 13 leading to a lethal shootdown experiment involving a solid-fuel target missile by the end of this month.
A mid-October experiment is in the planning stages that will involve lasing a solid-fuel missile at three times the range of last February’s successful destruction of a liquid-fuel missile, it said.
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 as its platform to detect and destroy ballistic missile.
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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