Airborne Laser Aircraft Stowed Away After Last Test

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said it on Tuesday stowed away an experimental missile defense aircraft for an extended duration following the system's final trial flight (see GSN, Dec. 21, 2011).

Reports emerged late last year that the Defense Department branch would shutter the Airborne Laser program. The effort was launched in the 1990s with the goal of installing ballistic missile-destroying chemical lasers on Boeing 747s, but yielded only one modified aircraft and two successful test interceptions, according to a previous report.

The Airborne Laser aircraft has fulfilled "the key MDA knowledge points" and would now be overseen by the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, according to an MDA press release.

The experimental system  "demonstrated the viability of a directed energy weapon for missile defense by tracking and destroying a boosting, representative foreign ballistic missile in flight," the agency said, adding it would pursue "highly efficient electric lasers" to help simplify and reduce the expense of any new antimissile initiatives involving targeted energy systems (U.S. Missile Defense Agency release, Feb. 14).

February 15, 2012
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The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said it on Tuesday stowed away an experimental missile defense aircraft for an extended duration following the system's final trial flight.

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