U.S. Airborne Laser Eliminates Target Missile

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency used its Airborne Laser to eliminate a mock ballistic missile during a test yesterday, Reuters reported (see GSN, Aug. 20, 2009).

The test occurred at 8:44 p.m. Pacific Standard Time at the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range not far from Ventura, Calif., Reuters reported.

"The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile," the agency stated.

"This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform," it added.

The weapon is carried aboard a converted Boeing 747 and is intended to destroy ballistic missiles in the early stage of flight.

"The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometers (miles), and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies," the agency said (Wolf/Alexander, Reuters, Feb. 12).

Shortly after the first test, the Airborne Laser yesterday successfully targeted but intentionally did not destroy a solid fuel short-range missile, according to an agency press release. The weapon had been used to eliminate an identical missile on Feb. 3 (U.S. Missile Defense Agency release, Feb. 11).

February 12, 2010
About

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency used its Airborne Laser to eliminate a mock ballistic missile during a test yesterday, Reuters reported (see GSN, Aug. 20, 2009).