Posts Tagged Airborne Laser

The Airborne Laser Testbed – shoot down missile with laser

airborne laser

The Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) is being developed as an advanced platform for MDA’s directed energy research program. Using two solid state lasers and a megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser housed aboard a modified Boeing 747-400 Freighter, the ALTB uses directed energy to demonstrate the potential of using directed energy as a viable technology against ballistic missiles.

Firing Sequence

  1. The Airborne Laser Testbed uses six infrared sensors to detect the exhaust plume of a boosting missile.
  2. Once a target is detected, a kilowatt-class solid state laser, the Track Illuminator, tracks the missile and determines a precise aim point.
  3. The Beacon Illuminator, a second kilowatt-class solid state laser, then measures disturbances in the atmosphere, which are corrected by the adaptive optics system to accurately point and focus the high energy laser at its intended target.
  4. Using a very large telescope located in the nose turret, the beam control/fire control system focuses the megawatt-class COIL beam onto a pressurized area of the boosting missile, holding it there until the concentrated energy compromises the structural integrity of the threat missile causing it to fail.


  • The High Energy Laser is now integrated on the aircraft with laser subsystem activation. The program achieved return to flight in April 2009 when it kicked-off its High Power System Integration (HPSI) experiment program. This experiment series verified correct operation of target tracking and atmospheric compensation of the upgraded Beam Control system using the low power energy lasers.

Source:  MDA

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