Boeing and the US Missile Defense Agency have successfully tested the speed, precision and breakthrough potential of an airborne laser testbed (ALTB), when it engaged and destroyed a boosting ballistic missile.
The ALTB was executed by the USAF from its Kirtland Air Force Base, and is managed by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
The experiment was conducted with a modified Boeing 747-400F, which took off from Edwards Air Force Base, and focused its high-energy laser at the missile target during its boost phase.
The most powerful mobile laser device in the world, the ALTB has the highest-energy laser, which can be fired from an aircraft.
The ALTB has been designed to provide unprecedented speed-of-light capability while intercepting any kind of ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight.
While Boeing is the prime contractor for the ALTB, Northrop has designed and developed the ALTB’s high-energy laser and Lockheed has developed the beam control / fire control system.
The test marked the first time a laser weapon has engaged and destroyed an in-flight ballistic missile, as well as the first time any system has accomplished it in the missile’s boost phase of flight.