US Air Force’s Airborne Laser Fires High-Energy Laser in Flight

19 August 2009 (Last Updated August 19th, 2009 18:30)

The high-energy laser (HEL), an important component of the US Air Force's airborne laser (ABL) has been successfully fired in flight, validating HEL's ability to fire in an airborne environment. The ABL, currently under development, will be able to travel at the speed of light to destro

The high-energy laser (HEL), an important component of the US Air Force's airborne laser (ABL) has been successfully fired in flight, validating HEL's ability to fire in an airborne environment.

The ABL, currently under development, will be able to travel at the speed of light to destroy all classes of ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight.

During the test, the high energy laser, known as a chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL), fired from a modified Boeing 747-400F prototype aircraft into an on-board calorimeter.

The on-board calorimeter is a test instrument used to capture the laser energy and measure performance characteristics of the beam.

The successful accomplishment is the final step in this phase of flight tests following ABL's first in-flight test against an instrumented target missile recently.

The high-energy laser will later undergo an intercept test against a ballistic missile in 2009.