From an MDA press release earlier today:
The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile. The experiment, conducted at Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off the central California coast, serves as a proof-of-concept demonstration for directed energy technology. The ALTB is a pathfinder for the nationâ€™s directed energy program and its potential application for missile defense technology.
At 8:44 p.m. (PST), February 11, 2010, 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.
This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform. The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometers, and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies.
Less than one hour later, a second solid fuel short-range missile was launched from a ground location on San Nicolas Island, Calif. and the ALTB successfully engaged the boosting target with its High Energy Laser, met all its test criteria, and terminated lasing prior to destroying the second target. The ALTB destroyed a solid fuel missile, identical to the second target, in flight on February 3, 2010.
Congrats are in order to all involved in a major milestone for the future of missile defense.
Article Series - Missile Defense 101
- Missile Defense 101: Intro
- Missile Defense 101 â€“ ICBM Fundamentals
- Missile Defense 101 â€“ The Threat
- Missile Defense 101: Sensors (Pt I)
- “To Provide for the Common Defense…”
- More Cold War Secrets Revealed
- Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) Completes Hover Test
- Missile Defense – It’s Not Just for ICBMs
- Iran’s Successful Space Launch
- Observations of a Missile Launch – I
- Missile Defense and FY10 DoD Budget
- Speaking of Ascent Phase Intercept…
- Foreign Ballistic Missiles – Capabilities and Threat Guide
- Say Hello to Ashura
- Required Reading: Naval War College Review Articles on China’s DF-21/ASBM
- BMDR Release and BMD Deployments to the Gulf
- Iran Announces New Space Launch Vehicle (SLV)
- Airborne Laser Testbed Successful in Lethal Intercept Experiment
- Wednesday’s Roll-up of Missile Defense News
- Aegis BMD: “Build a Little, Test a Little, Learn a Lot”
- The Problem With Proliferation: Cruise Missile Edition
- Sea-Based BMD — Another Successful Test
- Flightdeck Friday: A BMD Primer
- The Missiles of Spring: 2012 Edition