Tactical laser aircraft

Boeing says it has successfully completed the first ground test of the entire weapon system integrated aboard the Advanced Tactical Laser aircraft.


Boeing has completed the first ground test of the entire weapon system integrated aboard the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) aircraft.


The achievement marks a key milestone in the ATL Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration programme.


During the test on 7 August at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, the C-130H ATL aircraft fired its high-energy chemical laser through its beam control system.


The beam control system acquired a ground target and guided the laser beam to it, as directed by ATL’s battle management system. The laser passes through a rotating turret on the aircraft’s belly.


Scott Fancher, vice-president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, said: ‘By firing the laser through the beam control system for the first time, the ATL team has begun to demonstrate the functionality of the entire weapon system integrated aboard the aircraft.


‘This is a major step toward providing the ultra-precision engagement capability that the warfighter needs to dramatically reduce collateral damage.’


After conducting additional tests on the ground and in the air, the programme will fire the laser in-flight at ground targets later this year.


On 13 May, the high-energy laser was fired aboard the ATL aircraft for the first time, demonstrating reliable operations previously achieved in a laboratory.


During that test, an onboard calorimeter captured the laser beam before it left the aircraft.


Boeing is developing ATL with industry partners for the US Department of Defense. Boeing claims that ATL will destroy, damage or disable targets with little or no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.