Laser Equipped C-130H Prepared for Flight Testing in 2008

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Boeing has installed a 12,000 pound high-energy chemical laser module on board a C-130H aircraft, as part of the US Air force Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (CTD) program. The module was moved into place aboard the aircraft and aligned with the previously-installed beam control system, which will direct the laser beam to its target. The aircraft is being prepared to conduct a series of tests leading up to a planned demonstration flight in 2008. (More...)

"Next year, we will fire the laser at ground targets, demonstrating the military utility of this transformational directed energy weapon." said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. The test team will fire the laser through a rotating turret that extends through the aircraft's belly. ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Department of Defense, will destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.

The program achieved two other major milestones earlier this year. "Low-power" flight tests were completed in June at Kirtland; the ATL aircraft used its flight demonstration hardware and a low-power laser to find and track moving and stationary ground targets. The flight demonstration hardware includes the beam control system; weapon system consoles, which display high-resolution imagery and enable the tracking of targets; and sensors. The low-power laser, a surrogate for the high-energy laser, hit its intended target in each of more than a dozen tests. Also, in late July, the high-energy laser concluded laboratory testing at the Davis Advanced Laser Facility at Kirtland, demonstrating reliable operations in more than 50 firings.

Boeing's Advanced Tactical Laser industry team includes L-3 Communications/Brashear, which made the laser turret, and HYTEC, Inc., which made various structural elements of the weapon system.

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