Courtesy: DoD Missile Defense Agency
The Airborne Laser Testbed operates aboard a modified Boeing 747-400, and is designed to detect, track and kill ballistic missiles in their boost phase using a high energy laser.
Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB)
The Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) is being developed as an advanced platform for MDAs directed energy research program. Using two solid state lasers and a megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser housed aboard a modified Boeing 747-400 Freighter, the ALTB uses directed energy to demonstrate the potential of using directed energy as a viable technology against ballistic missiles.
The Airborne Laser Testbed uses six infrared sensors to detect the exhaust plume of a boosting missile.
Once a target is detected, a kilowatt-class solid state laser, the Track Illuminator, tracks the missile and determines a precise aim point.
The Beacon Illuminator, a second kilowatt-class solid state laser, then measures disturbances in the atmosphere, which are corrected by the adaptive optics system to accurately point and focus the high energy laser at its intended target.
Using a very large telescope located in the nose turret, the beam control/fire control system focuses the megawatt-class COIL beam onto a pressurized area of the boosting missile, holding it there until the concentrated energy compromises the structural integrity of the threat missile causing it to fail.
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