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First Light: Team fires airborne laser

Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have achieved "first light" of the US Missile Defence Agency's 1MW-class laser on board a parked YAL-1 airborne laser (ABL) in a hangar at the Edwards Air Force Base, a key preliminary step in preparation for a ballistic missile directed energy shootdown test next summer.

Starting Sunday, the team completed seven short-duration (less than 1s) test bursts into a calorimeter over a 16h period, says Mike Rinn, Boeing ABL's vice president and program director. "The laser is back with a vengeance," says Rinn.

Upcoming tests will include longer duration ground-based bursts through the firing control and pointing system mounted under the nose of the highly modified Boeing 747-200, followed by flight tests next spring. Initial shoot down tests will by carried out using sounding rockets, with a full-fledged ballistic missile takedown slated for August.






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