Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 3/25/2006 8:20:26 PM EDT
417th flight Test Squadron stands up

Article by Tech. Sgt. Eric M. Grill
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

March 17, 2006


The Airborne Laser program, formerly of the 452nd Flight Test Squadron, now falls under the 417th Flight Test Squadron, which was activated in a ceremony Thursday. The 417th FLTS, comprised of about 750 people, including the contractor workforce and the government workforce, is responsible for flight testing the YAL-1A Airborne Laser aircraft, shown above. The aircraft is currently in Wichita, Kan., receiving modifications to the sub-structure of the aircraft to accommodate the integration of the weapons system. (Photo by Master Sgt. James Graham)
(high-resolution image www.edwards.af.mil/archive/2006/images/abl_ramp.jpg)


03/17/06 – EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A stand-up ceremony to recognize the 417th Flight Test Squadron was held Thursday at the Birk Flight Test Facility on South Base.
The 417th FLTS, under the command of Lt. Col. Barry St. Germain, is responsible for the Airborne Laser Program, formerly a part of the 452nd Flight Test Squadron’s ABL Test Force.

“Standup of the squadron formalizes the priority of the program for the 412th Test Wing,” Colonel St. Germain said.

The squadron will encompass about 750 people, including the contractor workforce and the government workforce together.

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, said Robert Suszek, program manager for the Airborne Laser.

Talking about the formation of the squadron, Mr. Suszek said, “It recognizes the autonomy of the mission.

“We’re coming up on a milestone with weapons systems integration on the airplane and missile-shoot down,” he said. “So as we come up on that, (the Air Force Flight Test Center) is recognizing that we’re going to need our own engineering cadre, our own test planning cadre, (and) our own operations cadre. With that comes the squadron.”

Currently the YAL-1A is in Wichita, Kan., receiving modifications to the sub-structure of the aircraft to accommodate the integration of the weapons system, which is scheduled for completion by the end of the calendar year, Mr. Suszek said.

The ABL is a component of Missile Defense Agency’s boost-phase segment designed to destroy enemy missiles soon after they are launched to provide defense of the United States, its international allies, and its deployed troops.

The 417th Flight Test Squadron was originally activated here as the 6517th Test Squadron on March 10, 1989. It was dedicated to the C-17 Globemaster III test program. On Oct. 2, 1992, the squadron was re-designated the 417th Test Squadron, and on March 1, 1994, it became the 417th Flight Test Squadron. In October 1995, the squadron was inactivated and the C-17 program was consolidated with the 418th Flight Test Squadron.
Link Posted: 3/25/2006 8:22:23 PM EDT


Airborne laser weapon gets closer to takeoff
March 24, 2006 1:00 PM PST

Flight testing is set to begin by the end of the year for the U.S. Air Force's Airborne Laser project, in which a modified Boeing 747 will act as a giant--and potentially potent--laser pointer.

The flight will follow ground-based tests of solid-state lasers that are expected to end in August, Space.com reported this week. In the flight test, the low-power lasers will be fired at a target aircraft adorned with the painted image of a ballistic missile, according to a Boeing executive cited by Space.com.

The eventual goal of the ABL program is to shoot down actual missiles.

Also this year, work will continue on optical hardware to be used with the high-power chemical laser that will act as the weapons portion of the system, with more ground testing set for 2007. The solid-state lasers, by contrast, will be used for tracking targets and assessing atmospheric conditions. Next year, the refurbished chemical laser gear will be installed on the 747.

A missile-intercept demonstration is planned for 2008. The Air Force has been working on the ABL since the mid-1990s. The budget for this year is $471.6 million, Space.com reported.

The ABL is one part of a multifaceted defense that the Pentagon envisions against a ballistic missile attack.
Link Posted: 3/25/2006 8:22:40 PM EDT
so how long before they are able to scale the tech down and direct it at ground targets?

imagine being able to zap one haji in a crowd from 20k feet.
Link Posted: 3/25/2006 8:37:32 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Napoleon_Tanerite:
so how long before they are able to scale the tech down and direct it at ground targets?

imagine being able to zap one haji in a crowd from 20k feet.



That's comming soon, the JSF is going to carry a ground attack solid state laser.
Link Posted: 3/25/2006 8:40:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Armed_Scientist:

Originally Posted By Napoleon_Tanerite:
so how long before they are able to scale the tech down and direct it at ground targets?

imagine being able to zap one haji in a crowd from 20k feet.



That's comming soon, the JSF is going to carry a ground attack solid state laser.



as an offensive or defensive weapon? i've heard of using lasers to blind IR SAMs/AAM, but not as an offensive attack weapon.

given that it takes a whole 747 to carry the equipment for this laser, and it takes a few seconds of exposure to get the already volitile fuel to detonate the missle, i would think that a practical fighter based ground attack laser is still a ways off.
Link Posted: 3/25/2006 8:44:04 PM EDT


Link Posted: 3/25/2006 9:06:55 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/25/2006 9:42:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Napoleon_Tanerite:

Originally Posted By Armed_Scientist:

Originally Posted By Napoleon_Tanerite:
so how long before they are able to scale the tech down and direct it at ground targets?

imagine being able to zap one haji in a crowd from 20k feet.



That's comming soon, the JSF is going to carry a ground attack solid state laser.



as an offensive or defensive weapon? i've heard of using lasers to blind IR SAMs/AAM, but not as an offensive attack weapon.

given that it takes a whole 747 to carry the equipment for this laser, and it takes a few seconds of exposure to get the already volitile fuel to detonate the missle, i would think that a practical fighter based ground attack laser is still a ways off.



The ABL has a 200 mile (!) range, a JSF laser would only need a couple of miles to be effective. It will be solid state, not chemical, more than likely. It would be an array of very high power solid state lasers added together to produce a powerful enough beam. Trust me, the lasers used in DIRCM and LAIRCM are pretty potent little buggers, and could do nasty things to personnel. They are tiny, and low power by comparison.
Link Posted: 3/25/2006 9:43:58 PM EDT


That is one cool picture! My favorite math professor worked on the ABL program for a couple of years (he has a PhD in laser physics). Good stuff!
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 9:19:19 PM EDT
Bump for the pretty picture...
Top Top