U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

Site Map
Official logo of the US Missile Defense Agency

Missile Defense Agency

MDA News Release

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

Airborne Laser Successfully Fires the High Energy Laser in Flight

August 19, 2009

The Airborne Laser's (ABL) megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) successfully fired in flight Aug. 18. The test, "First Light in Flight," validates the High Energy Laser's (HEL) ability to fire in an airborne environment.

For the test, the modified Boeing 747-400F prototype aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. and the megawatt-class laser was fired into an onboard calorimeter. The onboard calorimeter is a test instrument used to capture the laser energy and measure performance characteristics of the beam. This successful accomplishment is the final step in this phase of flight tests. Although significant work remains before external lasing in flight can take place, this phase of COIL testing represents a major step toward the ABL's planned lethal demonstration against a boosting missile later this year.

ABL is being developed as a future element of the nation's ballistic missile defense system, and the first to use directed energy to destroy ballistic missiles in their "boost" phase.