Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB)
Towards the ultimate goal of developing a boost-phase intercept capability for the Ballistic Missile Defense System, the MDA used the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) for laser research and development. Using two solid state lasers and a megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser housed aboard a modified Boeing 747-400 aircraft, it used directed energy to negate threat ballistic missiles. Following the completion of 2011 experiments, the ALTB was then used as a national test platform for testing directed energy technologies for the Department of Defense in coordination with the Director of Defense Research and Engineering.
Feb. 14, 2012
The Airborne Laser Test Bed's (ALTB) final take off from Edwards Air Force Base, California as it transitions into long-term storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
Feb. 11, 2010
An infrared image of the Missile Defense Agency's Airborne Laser Test Bed (right) destroying a threat representative short-range ballistic missile (left).
This sequence of images shows a threat representative ballistic missile's breakup resulting from a high energy laser engagement by the Missile Defense Agency's Airborne Laser Test Bed.
At 8:44 p.m. (PST), a short-range threat-representative ballistic missile was launched from an at-sea mobile launch platform. Within seconds, the ALTB used onboard sensors to detect the boosting missile and used a low-energy laser to track the target. The ALTB then fired a second low-energy laser to measure and compensate for atmospheric disturbance. Finally, the ALTB fired its megawatt-class High Energy Laser, heating the boosting ballistic missile to critical structural failure. The entire engagement occurred within two minutes of the target missile launch, while its rocket motors were still thrusting.
Jan. 10, 2010
The Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) research and development platform successfully fired the onboard High Energy Laser (HEL) to engage an instrumented target missile, called a Missile Alternative Range Target Instrument (MARTI). This test demonstrated the full functionality of the ABTBL system to successfully acquire, track, and engage a boosting target. Test instrumentation aboard the MARTI collected data to evaluate ALTB laser system performance. This test engagement was not intended to lethally destroy the missile. The MARTI was launched from San Nicolas Island, located in the Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range, off the central California coast. This test provides data to support the ALTB platform's attempt of the first lethal shootdown of a boosting ballistic missile using directed energy technology, scheduled for 2010.
July 21, 2009
At Edwards AFB, Calif., the Airborne Laser Test Bed's first chemical flight test demonstrated the safe flow of chemicals through all laser systems.