Despite the optimism expressed by Airborne Laser Program Director Col. John Daniels, the 2007 defense budget proposal does place the ABL on the endangered species list. It’s down, but not out. The Pentagon plans to axe the second aircraft and downtool the program to a demonstration effort. The second aircraft might get a resurrection after the planned 2008 missile shootdown test, and would not have to repeat “a lot of the work that was completed with aircraft No. 1,” said a Missile Defense Agency spokesman. And, we suppose this is more good news: The MDA spokesman added, the ABL realignment has freed resources for other ballistic missile defense efforts, preventing the “premature termination” of promising technologies.
After a long period in which munitions were almost an afterthought and sacrificed to pay for other priorities, the Air Force needs to focus on them in order to have the right “package” of capabilities for future conflicts, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said June 7.