First ATL Laser Shot in Flight

The Air Force and Boeing on June 13 successfully fired the high-power laser aboard the advanced tactical laser (ATL) aircraft for the first time in flight during a test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. During the test, the ATL aircraft took off from Kirtland AFB, N.M., and fired its laser while flying over White Sands, hitting a target board located on the ground, Boeing said in a release yesterday. “We have demonstrated that an airborne system can fire a high-power laser in flight and deliver laser beam energy to a ground target,” said Gary Fitzmire, Boeing vice president and program director. More tests are planned to demonstrate ATL’s military utility in battlefield scenarios like urban operations. The ATL aircraft is a modified C-130H transport that carries a chemical laser fired out of a belly turret. It is designed to destroy, damage, or disable targets with little to no collateral damage.