An ambitious plan by the Air Force to develop, build and deploy up to
seven airborne laser weapons platforms, designed to shoot down ballistic
missiles shortly after take-off, is “preposterous,” according to a
source who co-authored a study on the feasibility of the project.

The source, who agreed to talk to WorldNetDaily on the condition of
anonymity, said that “a number of others” who have also been associated
with the airborne laser (ABL) program
have long tried to convince a
determined Air Force hierarchy that “ABL does not, and won’t ever,
work.”

The source claimed to “know the complete cast” involved in ABL,
including Air Force management personnel, scientists, and the various
congressional inquiries “into ABL ‘risk reduction.'” Upon request,
intimate details of the program were provided for verification purposes.

Robert D. Smith, a public relations officer with Boeing — the
company taking the lead on ABL’s development — told WorldNetDaily that
the “integrated system has not been tested, but the Air Force has
conducted many ‘lethality tests’ of representative test articles back in
1994.” He said those tests “verified the power and beam quality required
from an ABL system to effect the missile’s kill.”

Smith said the concept itself “has been tested through an extensive,
ongoing risk reduction program that started prior to 1992 and builds on
25 years of USAF test efforts with lasers.” Smith confirmed that an
element of the ABL program shot down five representative missiles in the
1980s.

But the former ABL program source insisted that “the atmospheric
turbulence” would cause any such beam “to break up, and in the ABL
cases, one cannot possibly correct for this.”

“Nature’s limit kills the possibility of ‘long-range’ horizontal path
laser propagation,” the source said, “and this conclusion is backed up
by a United Kingdom government study (DERA) by the head of their
aircraft weapons division.”

Indeed, Smith said ABL “isn’t meant to be a 100 percent solution,”
but rather part of “an integrated Theater Missile Defense (TMD)
architecture.”

“Airborne laser is being built on an extensive experiment and risk
reduction program started more than 20 years ago, and continuing today,”
he said.

Due to congressional delays, he noted that the program has been
extended a year. But he anticipated live firing tests from the airborne
platforms, which will be built on Boeing 747-400 aircraft, “by September
2003.”

“That will include 21 tests against boosting missiles, which
culminates with a lethal demonstration in 2003.” He added that the air
force was conducting additional tests to “characterize the atmosphere —
and that effort is ongoing at North Oscura Peak at the White Sands
Missile Range” in New Mexico.

That assessment was confirmed by a press release provided to
WorldNetDaily by the anonymous source. According to Aerospace Daily, on
March 3rd the “U.S. Air Force disclosed that it is restructuring the
airborne laser program to reflect a 10 to 12 month delay because of cuts
by Congress and the need to reduce risk.” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen.
Michael E. Ryan during prepared testimony made disclosure of the delay
to the House Armed Services Committee.

Smith said future tests, which are already scheduled, will involve “a
laser and beam control system” that will be “used to put lethal power on
a flying target board.” Those tests are designed to “replicate the
circumstances of the ABL performance environment.” Smith said that test
laser “isn’t the same” as the one which will eventually be used on the
flying platforms, but “it will perform the same because it is operating
at a lower altitude through a different layer in the atmosphere.”

He added that much of the criticism of the program was based on
outdated technical concepts and information, since these latest
developments are proven but only recently disclosed.

“The technical experts who have reviewed the program design and plan
agree the technology is available to develop the weapon system,” he told
WorldNetDaily. “The program is proceeding — and has encountered no
technical showstoppers.”


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