EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE — The development of a flying laser weapon to destroy ballistic missiles hit a major milestone when it showed it could detect and track a target. The Airborne Laser, a highly modified Boeing 747 based at Edwards Air Force Base, demonstrated it could find a flying target with a laser during two test missions in March. The tests were a major step toward proving a laser weapon can find and destroy ballistic missiles while they are still in the booster phase. “We have a crawl, walk, run approach to Airborne Laser,” said Col. John Daniels, the director of the airborne laser program. “Right now we’re between crawling and walking.” The Airborne Laser tested its battle management system and its tracking laser system against a simulated missile — a KC-135 dubbed “Big Crow” that was equipped with infrared heat lamps to simulate a missile plume. Several test firings were conducted during flights over the Pacific Ocean on March 15 and March 20. The system detected the plume and the aircraft’s nose turret turned toward the target and the tracking laser was fired. Daniels did not disclose the distance between the two aircraft during the testing, saying only that it was “a significant distance.” “The laser actually tracked and ranged an airborne target,” Daniels said. “This was a huge risk reduction for us.” The next major milestones ahead for the program will involve the firing of the tracking laser along with the firing of a surrogate weapon laser to simulate an actual missile shoot-down. Program officials envision future Airborne Laser aircraft patrolling in pairs at more than 40,000 feet and inside friendly territory, scanning the horizon for missiles. When a missile is detected, a set of lasers will track and illuminate it, and computers will measure the distance and calculate its course and direction. A second high-energy laser, fired through the nose turret mounted on the aircraft, will destroy the missile. The weapon laser is made up of six modules, each weighing 4,500 pounds and about the size of a sport utility vehicle turned on its end. The beam will heat an area about the diameter of a basketball on the missile’s relatively fragile fuel-tank casing. The laser will weaken metal already under high pressure from the ignited rocket fuel, causing the missile to explode. The weapon laser is being refurbished after being tested on the ground at Edwards. The plan now is to begin installing it on the aircraft this summer, with work likely to stretch into mid-2008. A test against an actual ballistic missile is scheduled for 2009. If that test is successful, there are plans to begin development of another airborne laser aircraft. Airborne Laser is one of the largest test programs at Edwards involving about 700 workers and three major contractors — Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. — Jim Skeen, (661) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Holiday Art Exhibition and Sale, Wednesday through Dec. 10 in the Art Gallery at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia. Call (661) 362-3612. Fall Forensics Showcase 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday in the College of the Canyons Amphitheater, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia. Call Victoria Leonard at (661) 362-3441. Fall Concert, 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the multipurpose room at Rancho Pico Junior High, 26250 W. Valencia Blvd., Stevenson Ranch. Admission: $2. Call (661) 284-3260. Winter Concert will feature all Placerita Junior High bands, 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Hart Auditorium, 24825 N. Newhall Ave., Newhall. Call (661) 259-1551. Band Concert will feature Sierra Vista Junior High, 7:30 p.m. Friday in the multipurpose room at La Mesa Junior High, 26623 May Way, Canyon Country. Call (661) 252-3113. “A Christmas Carol” will be presented, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18 at the Canyon Theatre Guild, 24242 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $13-$17 for adults and $10-$13 for students and seniors. Call (661) 799-2702. “The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol” will be presented, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23 at the Repertory East Playhouse, 24266 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. Call (661) 288-0000. Sierra Club hike to Whitney Canyon Park will meet, 9 a.m. Saturday at the south end of San Fernando Road, Newhall. Call Henry Schultz at (661) 284-5613. Arts & Crafts Fair will feature artists and crafts people selling their unique wares, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Central Park, 27150 bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call Nicki Voss Stern at (661) 286-4079. Family Nature Walk, 11 a.m.-noon, and an animal presentation, 1-2 p.m., every Saturday at Placerita Canyon Park and Nature Center, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. Call (661) 259-7721. “Talking Hands: A Multi-cultural Storytelling Experience” will be presented, 1-2 p.m. Saturday at the Valencia Library, 23743 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call Sue Yamamoto at (661) 259-8942. “African Tales” will be presented, 3 and 6 p.m. Saturday in the Q Theatre at Canyon High School, 19300 W. Nadal St., Canyon Country. Tickets: $5 for adults and $3 for ASB cardholders, children and seniors. Call (661) 252-6110. Grateful Dudes perform bluegrass music, 7:30-10:30 p.m. every Saturday at Vincenzo’s, 24504 1/2 Lyons Ave., Newhall. Call (661) 259-6733. To submit an event for the Things To Do calendar, contact Sharon Cotal two weeks prior to the event at (661) 257-5256, fax her at (661) 257-5262, e-mail her at [email protected] or write to her at 24800 Avenue Rockefeller, Valencia, CA 91355.