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  • Boeing Installs Laser Weapon
Dec 2007
ST. LOUIS, Dec. 10, 2007 -- The Boeing Co. installed a high-energy chemical laser aboard a C-130H aircraft, part of the advanced tactical laser (ATL) technology demonstration program under its Directed Energy Systems unit.

ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Department of Defense, "will destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations," the company said in a statement. Boeing's Advanced Tactical Laser industry team includes L-3 Communications/Brashear, which made the laser turret, and HYTEC Inc., which made structural elements for the weapon.

Boeing completed the laser installation Dec. 4 at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The laser, including its major subsystem -- a 12,000-pound integrated laser module -- was moved into place aboard the aircraft and aligned with a previously installed beam control system, which will direct the laser beam to its target.

With the laser installed, Boeing said it is set to conduct tests leading to a demonstration in 2008 in which it will fire the laser in-flight at ground targets to demonstrate the military utility of high-energy lasers. The test team will fire the laser through a rotating turret that extends through the aircraft's belly. "Low-power" flight tests were completed in June at Kirtland; the ATL aircraft used its flight demonstration hardware and a low-power laser to find and track moving and stationary ground targets.

The flight demonstration hardware includes the beam control system; weapon system consoles, which display high-resolution imagery and enable the tracking of targets; and sensors. The low-power laser, a surrogate for the high-energy laser, hit its intended target in each of more than a dozen tests. Also, in late July, the high-energy laser concluded laboratory testing at the Davis Advanced Laser Facility at Kirtland, demonstrating reliable operations in more than 50 firings.

This week Boeing also announced it conducted space-based space surveillance (SBSS) system tests of a sensor it is developing for the US Space Surveillance Network. Boeing said the tests of the system's visible sensor, payload electronics and high-speed gimbal validate that the SBSS will be faster, more sensitive and more accurate than the capabilities currently on orbit, "resulting in improved detection of threats to America's space assets."

Boeing has overall responsibility for the SBSS system and is developing the ground segment while working with Ball Aerospace to develop the spacecraft and visible sensor. Boeing completed design reviews in 2006 that included government and industry participants.

The company also said it was selected to participate in the development of yhe US Air Force's global positioning system (GPS) ground system, known as OCX, which will complement the Air Force's future GPS III spacecraft by offering better positioning service and anti-jamming capabilities. Boeing is a subcontractor to Raytheon Co., which was awarded the $160 million, 18-month contract by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in November.

Boeing is producing 12 GPS IIF satellites, with the first scheduled to launch next year, and submitted a proposal to the Air Force earlier this year for up to 12 GPS III satellites.

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