SEAL BEACH, Calif., June 3 -- The first airborne laser (ABL) missile-defense system aircraft, a modified Boeing 747-400 freighter aircraft, is being prepared for flight tests later this summer.
The Modification & Maintenance Center effort in Wichita, Kan., was the most comprehensive ever performed by Boeing Space and Communications (S&C), a business unit of The Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA). The company has previously modified 747 aircraft for the presidential Air Force One fleet and other large-scale military systems.
The ABL aircraft will undergo a systems check and flight tests in Wichita to verify aerodynamic performance and the surveillance system, then it will be delivered to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for laser and optics integration and tests.
Boeing S&C is leading the team selected by the US Air Force to develop and demonstrate the ABL. Lockheed Martin and TRW, working closely with the Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency, also make up the team.