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  Related News Items
  Missile Defense Agency - MDA > ABL Successfully Fires Laser in Flight19/08/2009
 
  Missile Defense Agency - MDA > ABL Low-Power Laser Test Against Missile Target13/08/2009
 
  FOX NEWS.com > ABL and ATL: Two Different Laser Stories13/07/2009
 
  Missile Defense Agency - MDA > First Live Target Tracking Test for Airborne Laser15/06/2009
 

Prototype
 

Video Link: excellent background film on the ABL system

Video Link: film scenario of ABL in action

The Airborne Laser is a unique missile defense system.  Essentially a very high-powered chemical laser built into a Boeing 747 airplane, it is intended to detect, target, and destroy ballistic missiles during their boost phase shortly after launch.  This would provide a unique capability, allowing shoot-downs of  attacking missiles while still flying over their home country. 

According to press reports, the ABL will be able to initiate its speed-of-light attack at a range of hundreds of kilometers.  Several successful preliminary tests have already taken place; the first missile intercept test of the ABL is expected in late 2009.


Sources: mda.mil; also boeing.com; also boeing.com/defense-space

 

 

  Technical Details Summary  
 
Name Airborne Laser
Type high energy chemical laser
Built by Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin
Speed speed of light
Guidance system specialized tracking radar
Platform specialized 747 airplane
Efficient against medium and long range ballistic missiles
 

 

 

 

 
ABL 747 with nose cone laser (courtesy Missile Defense Agency)

 

Turret ball for firing the laser (courtesy Lockheed Martin)

 

ABL laser turret (courtesy Lockheed Martin; photo by Russ Underwood)

 

ABL 747 with nose cone laser (courtesy USAF; photo by Kellie Masters)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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