HomeNewsArticle Display

New facility for airborne laser ground testing

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With the airborne laser flight test program under way, members of the ABL Integrated Test Force here are putting the finishing touches on a new facility that will be key to upcoming ground tests.

The $18.5 million test support structure, known as the Ground Pressure Recovery Assembly, will allow the test team to operate the weapons-class chemical laser and conduct testing on the ground.

The laser, which sits aboard a modified 747-400 series freighter aircraft, is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles while they still are over an enemy's own territory.

Because the laser was designed to function at the lower air pressures found at altitudes of 40,000 feet, the facility serves to simulate that lower pressure on the ground. The facility's large, sphere-like top is a negative pressure vessel, which sucks in the heat energy and water vapor generated by the chemical reaction of the laser. This venting action keeps the chemical reaction of the laser going. Without the release of heat energy and vapor, the chemical reaction would choke and light from the laser would cease.

The facility supports ground tests, which will take place inside the ABL Systems Integration Laboratory, known as the SIL. Ducting will connect the aircraft housed inside the SIL to the recovery assembly. Ducting can also be routed to additional hangars inside the ABL test complex to accommodate testing at other locations.

According to Kevin Montoya, ABL project manager here, the recovery assembly is part of the ABL program's risk-reduction plan. The industrial grade chemicals needed to produce the laser beam require detailed support and expertise from across the base, Montoya said. Therefore, safety continues to be paramount for the test team.

"We want to reduce our safety risks as we build up this weapon system," Montoya said. "This means learning about the operation of the laser inside the SIL and through ground testing. What we learn could reduce the overall flight test risk of the program."

The ABL program's ultimate goal is to shoot down a ballistic missile with a beam of ultra-powerful light by the end of 2004. The aircraft, tail No. 00-0001, which made its first flight July 18, is scheduled to arrive at Edwards later this year.

According to Montoya, it is possible that other Department of Defense agencies as well as private industry could use the recovery assembly for similar directed-energy tests in the future; however, currently the team is concentrating on preparing the aircraft for its major test against a ballistic missile. Besides testing on the ground, the test program includes laser firings against a number of objects in the air over White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, such as balloon-dropped instrumented targets and short-range rockets.

"Our focus right now is to shoot down a missile in 2004," Montoya said. "We don't want to sideline that in any way, but if some synergy exists that can ultimately save the taxpayer money, then it's in our best interest to consider that down the road."

Engage

Twitter
RT @DefenseOne: JOIN US TODAY @ 2 P.M. ET when our “State of Defense” series continues with a live interview featuring U.S. Air Force Chief…
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Teaching service members how to effectively shoot weapons. That’s the job of Combat Arms Training and Management. Watch…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Team - 25 years ago today, we lost 24 U.S. & Canadian Airmen in the Yukla 27 crash. It was a surveillance training so…
Twitter
Taking care of Airmen and their families! https://t.co/AVeidzDPcV
Twitter
Wherever Airmen go, the Federal Voting Assistance Program ensures their voice is heard. @FVAP works to ensure servi… https://t.co/tkJts1yo3Z
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: For #HispanicHeritageMonth, we're celebrating the stories of Hispanic & Latino Airmen! @188thWG SSgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez…
Twitter
#TotalForce Airmen participate in night operations during a base-wide, total force exercise @HAFB. Airmen & pilots… https://t.co/kJYNKwHY7n
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: California fires/smoke no match for UTA Airmen - https://t.co/pJysQ6snRh (Story by the @940Wing) #ReserveReady #ReserveRes
Twitter
Whistleblowers are NOT insider threats. Learn the difference and how you can appropriately report questionable gove… https://t.co/AaTvBfHcTv
Twitter
SrA Denise Arabie, 319th Operations Support Squadron radar approach controller @319thRW, describes the importance o… https://t.co/zkwMx6Qw3i
Twitter
RT @173rdFW: "I may have lost everything, but thanks to the support we’ve found here, I’m going to be back on my feet inside of a few weeks…
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official sat down and discussed how the Air Force will continue exempting Airmen from PT t… https://t.co/bWVig9fSOW
Twitter
SrA Mark Gonzalez describes how his job enables the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to support the Bomber Task Force depl… https://t.co/sceKCtM3Pz
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Our Airmen come from all walks of life — and we are stronger for it. Staff Sgt. Kalinin, 56th Force Support Squadron ALS…
Twitter
“It's critical to have that diversity in the Air Force that we have today because it is truly through that diversit… https://t.co/RIDQDjdlCr
Twitter
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron @EielsonAirForce takeoff in support of exercise Valia… https://t.co/cf0raGgEUD
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: "This test, and others like it, can shape the future of the MQ-9, as we continue to increase its relevance in great power com…
Twitter
"We cannot rest on our laurels. It is all about the people, folks, and they will guarantee our readiness, and are f… https://t.co/BsNDUSw0wE
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: USAFCENT Airmen and coalition partners are executing missions of national, regional and global importance and Exercise Desert…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,281,142
Follow Us