Chemical delivery brings ABL closer to first light, first shot
Airborne Laser Program receives first bulk chemicals
By Capt. Catie Hague
Air Force Flight Test Center Public Affairs
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.
12 Dec 03
The world's first attack-laser combat aircraft moved one step closer to its flight-test target Dec. 4 when 4400 gallons of hydrogen peroxide were delivered to the Airborne Laser's
Integrated Maintenance Facility at Edwards.
With the arrival of the program's first bulk chemical from its vendor in Houston, the ABL Test Force's laser-fuel mixing operation is on schedule to begin this winter.
"The hydrogen peroxide will be mixed with three bases -- sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and lithium hydroxide -- to create the fuel for our high-energy laser," said Lt. Col. Jim Rothenflue, 452nd Flight Test Squadron ABL director of engineering. "This hydrogen peroxide is the same chemical compound used in hair bleach. However, the H2O2 in your medicine cabinet is 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and 97
percent water, while the chemical delivery we just received is 50 percent hydrogen peroxide and 50 percent water, a much stronger
The laser fuel created through the chemical mixing process is called basic hydrogen peroxide, or BHP, explained Rothenflue. When combined with chlorine gas, the energy derived from the reaction generates a powerful laser beam. This beam is focused on a boosting missile's fuel tank, causing it to rupture and explode.
The IMF will be used to store the laser-fuel chemicals in bulk, as well as provide a place for BHP mixing operations, said 2nd Lt. Matthew
Horton, ABL operations engineer and member of the 452nd FLTS.
The BHP chemicals, which should all be on station by the end of the month, will be stored in accordance with industry standards.
"The 50 percent hydrogen peroxide will be kept in an 8000-gallon storage tank equipped with many safety features," Horton said, "including a pressure relief vent, an automatic and manual emergency dump capability, and an 11,000-gallon containment berm. The berm is in place to catch
leaks and pump escaped chemicals into disposal tanks. There's also a mister system to keep the tank cool during the summer months.
"The entire operation is monitored by our Facility Security Safety Monitoring System, which has multiple chemical sensors attached to alert us of any danger," he added.
The types of chemicals that will be contained within the facility include chlorine, iodine, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and three metal
hydroxides -- similar to common household chemicals [but] higher in concentration, Horton said. "These chemicals are used throughout the
world in paper mills, food processing plants, and rocket propulsion laboratories."
Despite their common use, Horton emphasized that when dealing with these chemicals, safety is number one. "For that reason, the IMF is located on the east end of south base, downwind of occupied zones and away from the main part of the base."
"We've spent many months preparing for the arrival of our chemicals," said Lt. Col. Keesey Miller, ABL Test Force director. "Safety in storage and operations is our top priority. We're confident because our team is
experienced and has met all the safety requirements. In addition, the emergency response teams from ABL and Edwards are trained to identify hazards and take the appropriate contingency actions if ever required."
According to Miller, generating the first light from the laser is planned for early next year.
The ABL is an airborne-directed energy weapon system. The YAL-1A is a prototype that employs a highly-modified, 747-400 airframe equipped with sensors, lasers, and sophisticated optics to find, track, and destroy ballistic missiles in their boost, or ascent, phase, explained Miller.
"The ABL is complex, but our team is up to the challenge," said Miller.
"The ABL's mission, ballistic missile defense, is crucial to this nation in today's world, and that fact keeps us focused. The arrival of the
first chemicals takes us one step closer to our ultimate goal."
The final key to testing this weapon system is bringing the laser and optical components together to make them work as an integrated weapon, said Rothenflue.
And FM-6 was successful last night in the Pacific. Looks like TBMD is a couple of steps closer to being a reality.
... Gotta love it! ... More [url=http://www.airbornelaser.com/] HERE[/url]
Yep. Looks like Aegis is tracking, too. I love it when a plan comes together.
Originally Posted By dport: And FM-6 was successful last night in the Pacific. Looks like TBMD is a couple of steps closer to being a reality.
FM-6 was successfully conducted on 11 December 2003, the third of planned six flight test series within the missile defense Block 2004 time period. Flight Mission-6 (FM-6) involved the detection and tracking of an Aries medium-range target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Kauai, Hawaii at 8:10am HST (1:10pm EST). Approximately two minutes after target launch, a developmental Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) was launched from the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense cruiser the USS LAKE ERIE (CG 70). Approximately two minutes later the SM-3 successfully intercepted the target missile with “hit to kill” technology. [img]http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/images/021121-N-0000X-006.jpg[/img]