First Airborne High-energy Laser Shot

Boeing’s industry team and the Missile Defense Agency earlier this week successfully fired the Airborne Laser’s megawatt-class high-energy laser aboard the ABL aircraft in flight for the first time. In a release Thursday, Boeing said the Aug. 18 test over the southern California desert moves the ABL closer to its shoot-down demonstration against a boosting ballistic missile planned for later this year. Greg Hyslop, general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, said the test demonstrated that ABL “has truly moved from the drawing board to reality.” The ABL is a modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft equipped to fire the Northrop Grumman-supplied HEL from a nose turret. For this test, the laser’s beam was fired into an onboard calorimeter and not through the aircraft’s beam control system and the turret. Such tests are upcoming. (Northrop Grumman release)