Airborne Laser Nears Next Shootdown Attempt

The Missile Defense Agency has announced plans to conduct another flight experiment with the Airborne Laser Test Bed by month’s end. It will be an attempt to shoot down a solid-fuel ballistic missile off the southern California coast with the test bed’s lethal megawatt laser. Back in February, ALTB destroyed a boosting Scud missile-type target from a distance of about 50 miles. Attempts in August to bring down a missile at twice that distance were delayed due to issues with test equipment and ALTB components. During a subsequent test bed flight on Sept. 1, a software anomaly thwarted the attempt to bring down a liquid-fuel, short-range ballistic missile. Once the software repair is validated, ALTB will go up against the solid-fuel missile. MDA is also in the planning stages for a mid-October flight test to lase a missile at even greater distances. (MDA release)