Skip to comments.Airborne Laser faces uncertain future despite historic intercept test
Posted on 02/17/2010 9:48:12 PM PST by ErnstStavroBlofeld
The Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) faces an uncertain future as both a research project and an operational system even after its 1MW-class chemical laser successfully - and historically - destroyed a ballistic missile off the California coast on 11 February.
The long-awaited intercept test proved that the modified Boeing 747-400F's key technology - a chemical oxygen iodine laser (Coil) invented by US Air Force researchers in 1977 - is a lethal weapon against ballistic missiles.
A week before the ballistic intercept, the ALTB shot down a Terrier Black Brant, a two-stage sounding rocket that presents faster and smaller target to the Lockheed Martin-supplied beam and fire control system.
Moving the ALTB out of the research environment, however, remains an open question. Despite passing a historic milestone for a directed energy weapons system, the intercept was completed in a sterile test environment. Moreover, the Missile Defense Agency classified the range of the test and obscured the length of time required to defeat the target, making it unclear how well the Coil technology really performed.
Mike Rinn, Boeing vice-president and general manager for missile defence programmes, believes the lethal demonstration opens the door for high energy lasers to become operational weapons.
"As we show things like we did last night, decisions can be made about whether this platform or some future platform or some incarnation of the current technology can be an operational system," Rinn says.
But Rinn's top customer - Secretary of Defense Robert Gates - remains opposed to making the $6 billion programme operational. In 2009 Gates cancelled the second Airborne Laser aircraft and downgraded the programme from operational prototype to testbed status.
The programme now remains in limbo, awaiting the results of future budget decisions.
(Excerpt) Read more at flightglobal.com ...
I ranted and raved on another thread about how we can’t seem to get technology in the air and how we have become collectively safety cowards.
In less than a generation, we will be bowing and bowing/scraping to the Chicoms and Russkies, since our weapon systems will be backward-looking and useless.
I will be so damn pissed if they cancel this program. they need to ACCELERATE IT, DAMMIT!
Secretary Gates explained, "The current administration really, really hates the military.
We prefer talking and bowing for defense."
Why does Gates grow some balls and really hand it to the President?
Gates should tell the President to stop living in a fantasy world and the situation is dire.
Fear not, The One will kill it.
Maybe ACORN can fund it with the billions headed their way.
You said it all. The one can not see past the end of his nose. If it ain’t socialist it ain’t on hes to do list.
Obama: “cancel it”
I can't understand why everyone must know everything during a war. As far as I'm concerned, we could ductape a garbage can on the front of a 747 and "whisper" that we have a death ray now.
RADICL, Research Assessment, Device Improvement Chemical Laser, is a 20 kW COIL laser tested by the United States Air Force in around 1998
He won't because Gates is a pliable apparatchik.
"IN 52 SECS BARACK OBAMA SAID HE WOULD CUT AMERICA'S MILITARY DEFENSE SYSTEMS"
The man has no guts.
What about babies with laser eyes?