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  • ABL Adieu
    Posted by Robert Wall 10:45 AM on Feb 23, 2012

    Boeing's Airborne Laser has now been put out to pasture.

    When ABL was born, it was going to be the next great thing in missile defense, destroying a target at hundreds-of-kilometers range with the power of its high-power chemical oxygen iodine laser. That was before the program got bounced around between the Air Force and Missile Defense Agency and development problems slowed the pace of advancement.

    In 2010, years late, ABL finally achieved its big success, destroying a missile in flight (video here).

    By that time, though, Robert Gates, the Defense Secretary at the time, had tired of the program and determined that it was operationally not useful. The argument, effectively, was that ABL would have to operate too close to Iranian borders (or even over Iran) to effectively engage a ballistic missile launched from the center of the country.

    ABL backers decried the decision, but in the end were unable to save the program, which by then had been relegated to a technology demonstrator. The final decision to end ABL activities was taken last year.

    blog post photo
    (Photo: USAF)

    And with that, the YAL-1A now finds its retirement home at the UASF's Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. (shown above making its last pass at its long-time home at Edwards AFB, Calif.)

    Tags: ar99, Boeing

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