Work on ABL Continues:

Army Brig. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, deputy director of the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters Monday afternoon at a Washington roundtable that the Airborne Laser “baseline development program” still is on track for its “lethal shootdown” test in Fiscal 2009—a slight variation on the previously stated late calendar 2008 date. (The ABL is poised to undergo live illuminator laser firing tests this year.) O’Reilly said the shootdown test will help the MDA make decisions about next steps and potential ABL deployment. Remember, the ABL got downgraded to a single demonstration aircraft in the 2007 defense budget, but Air Force and MDA still consider it a viable element of the ballistic missile defense program. Last year, USAF created a new unit at Edwards AFB, Calif., to handle nothing but ABL testing.