Airborne Laser Flight Begins Airworthiness Testing With Lockheed Martin Beam Control/Fire Control System
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., 08-DEC-04 -- The return to flight of the U.S. Air Force’s Airborne Laser (ABL) system late last week began the process of airworthiness certification of the beam control/fire control (BC/FC) system designed and developed by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT).
“During this first flight, we were able to carefully monitor the BC/FC environment and make measurements of vibration, acoustics, temperature, pressures and selected strains,” said Paul Shattuck, ABL technical director for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif.
The first ABL test flight at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of southern California was the culmination of an intense period of activity that brought together crucial elements of the ABL system and their integration into the Boeing 747-400 aircraft. In 2004, Lockheed Martin delivered and integrated all of the elements of its BC/FC system, comprising the Flight Turret Assembly, the Beam Transfer Assembly and Multi-Beam Illuminator Assembly. ABL's first flight with the BC/FC system marks the completion of a key MDA-required 2004 milestone.
ABL will be the world's first megawatt-class laser weapon system integrated on a specially configured Boeing 747-400F aircraft to autonomously detect, track and destroy hostile ballistic missiles. Lockheed Martin is responsible for the system that will accurately point, focus and fire the laser to provide sufficient energy to destroy the missile while it is still in the highly vulnerable boost phase of flight. The ABL program is managed by the Missile Defense Agency and is executed by the U.S. Air Force from Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, working closely with the Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency, are developing ABL. Boeing is responsible for developing the ABL battle management system, integrating the weapon system, and supplying the modified 747-400 freighter aircraft. Lockheed Martin is developing the Beam Control/Fire Control system. Northrop Grumman is providing the complete chemical oxygen iodine high-energy laser system.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs, develops, tests, manufactures, and operates a variety of advanced technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include a full-range of space launch systems, including heavy-lift capability, ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.