Beaming On

: The Air Force has awarded Boeing a $30 million follow-on contract to continue testing the advanced tactical laser, the company announced yesterday. The funds will cover an extended user evaluation of the prototype ATL aircraft, which is a C-130H fitted with a high-power chemical laser. The laser fires a beam of energy from a turret in the aircraft’s belly that is capable of destroying, damaging or disabling ground targets from overhead, while causing little or no collateral damage. During the EUE, the Air Force and other potential users will perform hands-on ground and flight tests of the ATL in order to assess how well the ATL can be integrated into battlefield operations, said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems. The EUE takes the work of the Boeing-led industry team beyond the Office of the Secretary of Defense-sponsored ATL advanced concept technology demonstration.