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Star Wars meets Herky Bird


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PDF from Boeing explains the project in detail. On page 60 of the April, 2008 edition of Popular Science magazine an article lays out the basic details of the project that Boeing is working on at Kirtland AFB. A 40,000 pound (COIL) chemical oxygen-iodine laser is being mounted in the cargo compartment of a C-130. The project is still in the experimental stages. When it is operational the laser packing C-130 will, no doubt, be the world\'s deadliest gunship. It is expected the laser gunship will be able to fire a computer guided, stabilized laser beam 17 inches in diameter from an altitude of 10,000 feet at targets up to 5 miles away. The beam can only fire for a few seconds at the time, but heats anything in its path to thousands of degrees. The prototype should fly this year and is expected to be capable of melting a 17 inch hole through a tank from 5 miles away.

Grab the April Popular Science or click the link above to check it out.

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Neat concept. I remeber reading a similar article on a COIL laser system several years ago in a Boeing 747 proposed to be used as theater missle defense. Zap the missles while in the boost phase. The drawback was number of times the COIL could fire. Limited due to the volume and weight of the chemicals needed to generate the power. Wonder how many shots the 130 version can cary.


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  • 7 months later...

New Update: The Air Force has awarded Boeing a $30 million follow-on contract to continue testing the advanced tactical laser, the company announced yesterday. The funds will cover an extended user evaluation of the prototype ATL aircraft, which is a C-130H fitted with a high-power chemical laser. The laser fires a beam of energy from a turret in the aircraft\'s belly that is capable of destroying, damaging or disabling ground targets from overhead, while causing little or no collateral damage. During the EUE, the Air Force and other potential users will perform hands-on ground and flight tests of the ATL in order to assess how well the ATL can be integrated into battlefield operations, said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems. The EUE takes the work of the Boeing-led industry team beyond the Office of the Secretary of Defense-sponsored ATL advanced concept technology demonstration.

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Dan, you are right. But I had a good budy on Spector and it used to piss the crews off when the fac would come back with a \"undetermed kill\" when they used the 105 as there was never enough left to confirm a positive kill...would only score it as a \"possible\"

How will the laser kills be evalvated? I\'m with you bettr laser sights on the 40s.


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  • 7 months later...

6/19/2009 - Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. (AFNS) -- Members of the 413th Flight Test Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., and contractor Boeing recently successfully fired the high-power laser aboard the Advanced Tactical Laser aircraft for the first time in flight.

The combined effort between Boeing and the 413th was instrumental to the "first light" of the high power ATL.

"This successful test is a major step toward bringing directed energy capability to the warfighter," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing's Directed Energy Systems. "We have demonstrated that an airborne system can fire a high-power laser in flight and deliver laser beam energy to a ground target."

During the test, the specially modified 46th Test Wing NC-130H aircraft equipped with the ATL weapon system took off from Kirtland and fired its laser while flying over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., successfully hitting a target board located on the ground. ATL is equipped with a chemical laser, a beam control system, sensors and weapon-system consoles.

"We have taken technology from the laboratory to reality and have now demonstrated that directed energy is on a path toward a safe and viable option for the warfighter with very unique capabilities," said Eric Van Dorn, 413th FLTS lead flight test engineer.

More tests are planned to demonstrate ATL's military utility. The system is designed to damage, disable or destroy targets with little to no collateral damage. These demonstrations support development of systems that will conduct missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.

"The time and effort from the entire team exhibited the cooperation and professionalism between the U. S. Air Force and Boeing. The culmination of this event is fantastic," said Master Sgt. Scott Wollitz, mission flight engineer. "I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of the crew for this test. The laser shot was amazing!"

The ATL program is managed by the 687th Armament Systems Squadron, which is part of the 308th Armament Systems Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., and supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland.

"It's another case of science fiction becoming reality," said Maj. James Stahl, 413th FLTS test pilot. "As a kid growing up I was fascinated by the lasers in the movie Star Wars; to be the first to fire this laser in flight is truly an honor."

Note: NC-130H c/n [cn]4131[/cn] 65-0979

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Thanks for the kind words, Sonny. It was a definite tam effort between us in maintenance, the air crew and the project personnel to keep 22 looking and flying good. I really miss those "good ole days."

The turret was moved to the new acft and as I understand it, much of the modified belly structure was also transferred to the new plane. I guess at least part of 22 is still flying but the thought of her sitting on the range at Eglin rotting turns my stomach.

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  • 3 months later...

some pretty cool stuff! there are a few videos at the bottom of the link on the Times website.


Test of laser from C-130H melts hood of car

By Bruce Rolfsen - Staff writer

Posted : Friday Oct 2, 2009 14:14:28 EDT

New video released by the Air Force and Boeing Co. show what happens when a C-130H Hercules aims the Advanced Tactical Laser at the hood of car.

In the video recorded Aug. 30 during a test flight at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., the laser melts the hood and sparks a fire. A press statement from Boeing said the laser “killed the vehicle.â€

The weapon uses a chemical laser that fills the cargo hold of C-130 to produce a laser beam fired from a turret mounted in the belly of a C-130.

If the size of laser can be reduced, the Air Force could one day fly laser versions of the AC-130 gunships.

The future of the project is in doubt as it competes for funding with other weapons, but a Boeing official said he is optimistic.

“The bottom line is that ATL works, and works very well,†Gary Fitzmire, program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems' Directed Energy Systems unit, said in a release. “ATL's components — the high-energy chemical laser, beam control system and battle manager — are performing as one integrated weapon system, delivering effective laser beam energy to ground targets.â€

Working with Boeing on the $200 million project, which began in 2002, is the Air Force Research Lab’s Directed Energy Directorate.

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