Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Incredible Lockheed/Martin ABL/IRSS

ABL/IRSS Main PicThe Airborne Laser (ABL) is the U.S. Air Force's radical new approach for disabling or destroying threat ballistic missiles immediately after launch, during their vulnerable boost phase of launch. Onboard a Boeing 747, the ABL will use the Infrared Surveillance Subsystem (IRSS) to detect and precisely locate threat missiles for engagement by the ABL's megawatt class laser. IRSS leverages some of the latest Infrared Search and Track (IRST) and Active Ranging Sensor (ARS) technologies to perform the real-time detection and precise target tracking functions.

The ABL team is comprised of Boeing, responsible for building the 747 aircraft and the BMC4I computer; TRW, responsible for building the laser; and Lockheed Martin, responsible for Beam Control/Fire Control and the IRSS. Employing six IRSTs, IRSS is capable of rapidly searching a large airspace volume, generating precise two-dimensional tracks on threat missiles during both their boost and post-boost phases of flight. The IRST system can generate detections at very long ranges, then handing off to a CO2 laser ARS for track refinement and precise range measurement. The ABL project is currently in the Program Definition and Risk Reduction (PDRR) phase. Live fire testing of the entire ABL system is scheduled for 2003.

Caption: Airborne Laser (ABL) is an aircraft-mounted laser weapon system that is capable of destroying chemical, biological, and nuclear missiles almost immediately after launch and before they would pose a threat to civilian populations and military assets. This beam control system provides autonomous acquisition, pointing, and tracking capabilities against the theater ballistic missiles.

"Lockheed Martin photo"

CAPTION: Airborne laser (ABL) is an aircraft-mounted laser that is capable of destroying chemical, biological, and nuclear missiles.

CREDIT: "Lockheed Martin photo"


Both the written, and graphic material above was reproduced from the LockheedMartin website. It's facinating to me, and so I reproduced it for my readers - for scientific purposes. I'm sure it's copyrighted, but I can use it here under FAIRUSE Copyright rules. I cropped, and resized the two larger "photos" above to fit those images on my blog page.


If the U.S. could deploy dozens of these airborn ABM systems, once they are fully functional, they might prove worthwhile. They could find an immediate role in shielding Japan, and the U.S. from a nuclear missile attack from North Korea.

Despite the promise of this program I'm hoping that U.S. foreign policy never comes to depend upon this type of defense system. All it takes is one warhead to make it past such a system to incinerate millions of people.

I've always believed that it's best to promote positive relations with all nations, and hopefully reduce the chances of conflict in the first place. Having said that I believe that such a program is vital to the interest of the U.S.


Randy said...

This reminds me of the movie Real Genuis, one of Val Kilmer's early movies. In this movie the professor had the advanced students create parts of an laser they put on an airplane. When the students got word what it really was they got back at the professor by filling his house with popcorn and changing the coordinates of the target to point to the house. It caused the house to fill with popcorn and blow out all the windows. Funny stuff.

JeromeProphet said...


You know I hadn't thought of that. This project is strikingly similar to the one portrayed in that movie.

Essentially what we see here is a flying battery.

That is a funny movie, and if I'm surfing through the void of television, and find it on, I almost always stop to watch it.


Anonymous said...

This project is similar to a lot of movies. The Bond film Die Another Day comes to mind. Not to mention Dr. Evil and his giant laser. Maybe they'll get sharks with laser beams next.

When we start talking about weapons like this we have to consider for what other purposes they will be used and what the reaction of other nations will be.

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