airbourne laser


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Critic says airborne laser won't work
Source said nature prevents it

By Jon E. Dougherty
© 1999
An ambitious plan by the Air Force to develop, build and deploy up to seven airborne laser weapons platforms, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles shortly after take-off, is "preposterous," according to a source who co-authored a study on the feasibility of the project.
The source, who agreed to talk to WorldNetDaily on the condition of anonymity, said that "a number of others" who have also been associated with the airborne laser (ABL) program have long tried to convince a determined Air Force hierarchy that "ABL does not, and won't ever, work."
The source claimed to "know the complete cast" involved in ABL, including Air Force management personnel, scientists, and the various congressional inquiries "into ABL 'risk reduction.'" Upon request, intimate details of the program were provided for verification purposes.
Robert D. Smith, a public relations officer with Boeing -- the company taking the lead on ABL's development -- told WorldNetDaily that the "integrated system has not been tested, but the Air Force has conducted many 'lethality tests' of representative test articles back in 1994." He said those tests "verified the power and beam quality required from an ABL system to effect the missile's kill."
Smith said the concept itself "has been tested through an extensive, ongoing risk reduction program that started prior to 1992 and builds on 25 years of USAF test efforts with lasers." Smith confirmed that an element of the ABL program shot down five representative missiles in the 1980s.
But the former ABL program source insisted that "the atmospheric turbulence" would cause any such beam "to break up, and in the ABL cases, one cannot possibly correct for this."
"Nature's limit kills the possibility of 'long-range' horizontal path laser propagation," the source said, "and this conclusion is backed up by a United Kingdom government study (DERA) by the head of their aircraft weapons division."
Indeed, Smith said ABL "isn't meant to be a 100 percent solution," but rather part of "an integrated Theater Missile Defense (TMD) architecture."
"Airborne laser is being built on an extensive experiment and risk reduction program started more than 20 years ago, and continuing today," he said.
Due to congressional delays, he noted that the program has been extended a year. But he anticipated live firing tests from the airborne platforms, which will be built on Boeing 747-400 aircraft, "by September 2003."
"That will include 21 tests against boosting missiles, which culminates with a lethal demonstration in 2003." He added that the air force was conducting additional tests to "characterize the atmosphere -- and that effort is ongoing at North Oscura Peak at the White Sands Missile Range" in New Mexico.
That assessment was confirmed by a press release provided to WorldNetDaily by the anonymous source. According to Aerospace Daily, on March 3rd the "U.S. Air Force disclosed that it is restructuring the airborne laser program to reflect a 10 to 12 month delay because of cuts by Congress and the need to reduce risk." Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan during prepared testimony made disclosure of the delay to the House Armed Services Committee.
Smith said future tests, which are already scheduled, will involve "a laser and beam control system" that will be "used to put lethal power on a flying target board." Those tests are designed to "replicate the circumstances of the ABL performance environment." Smith said that test laser "isn't the same" as the one which will eventually be used on the flying platforms, but "it will perform the same because it is operating at a lower altitude through a different layer in the atmosphere."
He added that much of the criticism of the program was based on outdated technical concepts and information, since these latest developments are proven but only recently disclosed.
"The technical experts who have reviewed the program design and plan agree the technology is available to develop the weapon system," he told WorldNetDaily. "The program is proceeding -- and has encountered no technical showstoppers."
They were both from the same site
Confusing, aint it?

There have always been problems with any new system. Shock disclosure stories from disgrubntled former contractors or workers aint new either.

Try going to, and looking a little bit at the technic behind the laser, to see what the item was originally supposed to do.

the AF at also maintains good fact sheets and news on this system.

good luck
Yeah, but look it was written in 1999, you'd think that now, 6 years later, they've probobly tested it out a bit more extensively, taking into account his dissention.
They were getting this program on-line when I left Edwards AFB in late 2000. Would'nt be the first program to flop, but i've seen test targets hit by the laser and they were impressive. Would be nice if it worked in an airborn platform, but I think they have more than missiles in mind.
Airborne Laser Mission

As part of the government’s effort to demonstrate the feasibility of an airborne laser system for defense against those types of missiles, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Air Force have contracted with a team composed of Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to build an airborne high-energy laser weapon system.

The Airborne Laser (ABL) weapon system will operate outside of the range of threat weapons but sufficiently close to enemy territory and at altitudes above the clouds where it can acquire and track missiles in boost flight, and then accurately point and fire the laser with such energy that the missile is destroyed.

ABL is the Boost Phase Intercept capability for the DoD's "Layered" Missile Defense System.
ABL is one key part of a Department of Defense approach to defending against ballistic missiles. The "layered" system uses different weapons to kill ballistic missiles at differing critical points in their lethal trajectories.


Airborne Laser:
Early Engagement - destroys ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight over launch area
Cues and tracks targets - communicates with other joint theater assets for layered defense system



This is ABL's official site:


Mine, and many other's hopes and prayers are in that plane, I hope it won't betray us....
If this weapon is succesfull, the US will not have to fear from Nuke-Attacks any more.... If that thing was operational during the Cold War..... ;)




P.S. I heard also that AF is going to build smaller ABL for C-130 "Hercules". Cheaper and smaller, but also firepower will be less.... :(
May be next step is laser rifles..., but it seems to be far away...they would have to be too big....may be in a decade?
As far as I heard, the laser rifles are longly in developement in the U.S., they made them(I heard it on Discovery), but they are just too expensive for now.... so they are trying to make some cheaper ones....
The project was undergoing start-up at Edwards AFB in late 2000. A co-worker of mine was to be assigned to the project and is no doubt, still there. Not sure what has become of the program, but the damage to a test target was impressive. I used to have alot of YAL-1A patches, but have since sold or traded them all.