U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

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Missile Defense Agency

MDA News Release

5700 18th Street, Bldg 245
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5573

Airborne Laser Begins Final Proof-of-Concept Tests

April 24, 2009

The Missile Defense Agency announced today that the Airborne Laser (ABL) prototype aircraft achieved flight certification on April 21, 2009 as it returned to flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The successful functional check flight leads the way to completion of the final four knowledge points for the aircraft.

The current flight test campaign follows the successful completion of a year-long effort to integrate and test the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser on board the highly modified 747-400 freighter aircraft. This phase of the development program will demonstrate ABL's ability to detect, track, target and engage progressively more difficult targets, culminating with a lethal demonstration against a boosting, threat-representative missile planned for later this year.

The ABL is being developed as a future element of the nation's ballistic missile defense system and will be the first weapon system using directed energy to destroy ballistic missiles in the boost phase of flight.