Remember the Airborne Laser (ABL), the jumbo-jet-mounted chemical laser weapon designed to knock hostile missiles out of the air in mid-flight? The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has released a video of this futuristic system in action, tracking and engaging a test missile fired from San Nicolas Island off the California coast. While the video might come off just a bit anti-climactic, with no dramatic explosion to cap off the laser blast, it does prove one key thing: the system, at least if the video is to be believed, actually works.
Missile destruction, it turns out, was not the point of this demonstration. Rather, the test rocket was a sensor-laden device known as a Missile Alternative Range Target Instrument (MARTI). While the ABL was busy acquiring its target and firing its onboard High Energy Laser (HEL), MARTI was collecting data on the test fire, data that supposedly will help the ABL complete a lethal interception sometime later this year.
Of course, those who have been following the ABL from its ambitious beginnings know that the weapon system is under-funded, behind schedule and not exactly a high priority in Obama and Bob Gates' 21st-century military. The chemical laser is expensive, cumbersome and cost-intensive to recharge. Better electrically powered lasers or naval-launched interceptor missiles very likely will supercede the ABL, which so far only exists as a single prototype plane.
Still: lasers blasting missiles out of the sky. What's not to like?
i thought Gates cut the funding for this project(?)
i also read that he thought it was basically useless, since the plane has to be near the launch site; generally not a safe place for jumbo-jets to be... you know, circling an enemy missile-silo.
Ya now we can make that james bond movie happen in real life! Just Die Another Day!
only a prototype, one day it'll be put into Stealth Airplanes.
Also, sooner or later, the laser will be upgraded to the point that it will begin lighting the Taliban into flames
Railguns will definitely supersede this...
if we're still in Afghanistan by the time this clunker gets an unlikely upgrade...
And I don't think Obama is going to pull them out of Iraq.
Its been a year that he promised to pull the soldiers from Iraq.
I feel bad for voting for him
very cool. but you need 5 more of the same plane surrounding this plane to shoot down all of the SAMs being launched at it!
They did something like this decades ago, but the problem then was that it was so big and cumbersome, it had only one shot, and then its power was gone.
Hopefully they've "miniaturized" this one by now.
...it was basically useless, since the plane has to be near the launch site;...
Hopefully, one could tilt the plane upward, and the beam would shoot into the stratosphere, its being a laser. After all, we shot a laser to the moon and back.
They could also place them in orbit, especially if they were "repeaters." Their function would be concealed, and not exposed until they are needed.
The game changer will be the nuclear powered laser. Not nuclear power generating electricity, then powering an electric laser, but nuclear fission being the direct source of the light energy. Non-stop full power beam that can run for months. No re-loading chemicals with every flight.
it's a nice try but it leads to environmental pollution
ummmm...obama has little control over pulling the troops...just as much control as he does creating laws (he can veto them, thats about it)...talk to congress...its amazing how many "educated voters" overlook the fact that the president is just a face and a signature. his job is "kissin babies and shakin hands".
besides, there's too much interest from the private sector in the middle east for us to pull out any time soon. hense, this laser. a private company prototyped it, then sold it to the U.S. defense admin (or whoever writes the checks for this bs). there's even a show on discovery about two brothers that sell inventions to the army and such..."howe and howe tech"...
capitalism at its finest
So its a really big tracking laser pointer, that doesn't sound like how much its worth.
In the past these things have been so bulky and cumbersome, the plane could only carry one shot. When they can stand up against a fleet of 10,000 missles with multiple shots, they may be worth having.
Also, being at high altitude, the horizon is a very long way away. Still, they have to have some notion of the target location to stand in reaching distance of the incoming missile.
Possibly that would be achievable by keeping them constantly above likely targets, or forward toward likely sources. They might even be able to take off after a warning, and be at a high altitude 10 minutes before the missile arrives.
This is incredible but where the hell is the window the pilot supposed to look through?....Or is the plane flown through a computerized system?