The Missile Defense Agency conducted a planned exercise of the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) this morning (late evening Pacific Daylight Time) at the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off the central California coast. The objective of this mission was for the ALTB to destroy a solid-fuel, short-range ballistic missile while its rocket motors were still thrusting.
The Terrier Black Brant target missile was launched successfully. Preliminary indications are that the system acquired and tracked the plume (rocket exhaust) of the target, but never transitioned to active tracking. Therefore, the high energy lasing did not occur.Program officials will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the transition failure. The intermittent performance of a valve within the laser system is being examined.