29 May 2002
The first Airborne Laser (ABL) missile-defence system aircraft, a modified Boeing 747-400 freighter aircraft, has been moved to the flight ramp in preparation for flight testing later this summer.
The Modification & Maintenance Centre effort in Wichita in Kansas has been the most comprehensive ever performed by Boeing Space and Communications (S&C), a business unit of The Boeing Company. The company has previously modified 747 aircraft for the presidential Air Force One fleet, as well as for other large-scale military systems.
The next major ABL programme milestone is flight-worthiness testing in Wichita. The ABL aircraft will undergo a complete systems functional check and flight tests to verify aerodynamic performance and the surveillance system. Once those tests are completed, the aircraft will be delivered to Edwards Air Force Base, in California 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. Team ABL includes Boeing, Lockheed Martin and TRW, working closely with the Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency.