Boeing has fired a high-energy oxygen-iodine laser aboard a C-130H aircraft in ground tests for the first time, achieving what it says is a key milestone for the US Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program.
The successful firing of the laser occurred on May 13 at the Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
After conducting a series of additional laser tests on the ground and in the air, the next step will see the laser fired at so-called ‘mission-representative’ ground targets. The test team will fire the laser through a rotating turret that extends through the aircraft’s belly.
Last year, the high-energy laser concluded laboratory testing at Kirtland, demonstrating reliable operations in more than 50 firings.
ATL, which Boeing is developing for the US Department of Defense, will destroy, damage or disable targets with what it claims will be ‘little to no collateral damage’, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.
The team developing the system include L-3 Communications/Brashear, which made the laser turret and Hytec, which made various structural elements of the weapon system.