Skip to comments.Airborne Laser Completes Successful In-Flight First Firing of Laser Tracking System
Posted on 03/16/2007 5:20:58 PM PDT by RDTF
Lt. General Henry A. Trey Obering, Missile Defense Agency director, announced today the successful completion March 15, 2007 of the first in-flight test of the laser targeting system for the Airborne Laser (ABL), a boost-phase missile defense system that is designed to use directed energy to destroy a ballistic missile in the boost phase of flight.
This important milestone involved multiple firings of the Tracking Illuminator Laser (TILL), mounted inside of the worlds most heavily modified Boeing 747-400 aircraft, to engage a missile-shaped target painted on the side of a KC-135 aircraft nicknamed Big Crow, and used as an aerial target for low-power laser flight testing.
The TILL is a kilowatt-class solid-state laser that is intended to track a boosting ballistic missile and identify the most vulnerable location on the missile in preparation for the eventual firing of the High Energy Laser, which will use directed energy to burn through the rocket motor case of a hostile missile. This is the first open-air lasing in flight by ABL and marks a significant step towards achieving the programs 2007 knowledge points.
The test was conducted off the coast of California. The ABL Beam Control System was able to engage the target aircraft and calculate the instantaneous range to the target during the engagement.
Data was also collected on atmospheric turbulence and aero-optics using one of Big Crow's solid-state laser beacons in preparation to close the atmospheric compensation loop on a future flight. News media point of contact is Rick Lehner, Missile Defense Agency, at (703) 697-8997 or Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org
(Excerpt) Read more at mda.mil ...
To all you Russian folk...think "China".....
I'd think it would be better to mount the system on a satellite: hitting the target from above would involve less atmosphere to burn through- just hit it when it is at 5-7 miles altitude. But then, the power source would have to be completely re-worked from chemical to electric [a good size reactor, and some mythical size capacitor bank or maybe a flywheel, to provide a subsecond megawatt level burst].
Chemical laser on orbit? Who's gonna volunteer to carry tons of that nasty fuel up there, and transfer it to the ray gun's tanks?
Maybe they can ship the energy up there in a microwave beam. But where to store it?
Maybe they don't store it. But in that case, why not just put a big steerable mirror up there, generate the beam on the ground, and aim it from orbit. Then you don't have to rectify the microwaves into kiloamps, turn the kiloamps into megawatts of laser light, with all that heavy wire, semiconductors, coolant, etc. Not to mention the problems of generating enough microwave beam power on the ground to compensate for all the losses in the system (like >1kW input power for each watt out the exit mirror, probably closer to >5kW per watt).
Or, on second thought, why not learn how to use adaptive optics to compensate for atmospheric distortion in real time, and mount the laser and it's power supply on an aircraft platform powered by good old air-breathing engines?
Guess what! That's what they've done!
Reminds me of Kim Jong Mental's missile test last year. Things that make you go hmmmmm.
WOW! Thanks very much for the ping. WOW!
Unless you happen to be up close, it would not even be the atmospheric distortion but good old-fashioned haze, and trying to burn through a couple hundred horizontal miles of it would be no fun. that's why hitting from above would be better.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.