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Air Force News

Airborne Laser gets approval to begin next phase

Released: Jul 15, 1998

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Technical progress made toward producing the world's first operational laser-carrying warplane has earned it a "green light" to move into the next phase of the program and begin f inalizing the system's design. This "Authority-To-Proceed" was given recently by acting Air Force Acquisition executive Darleen A. Druyun.

This key decision for the Airborne Laser System program office is the first of two -- the next one being in 2001 -- that give senior Air Force and Department of Defense officials insight into the program's technical progress as it moves toward the test of a missile shoot-down in 2002.

The decision also clears the way for the Air Force to obligate the remainder of fiscal 1998 development funds approved for the program by Congress last year.

The Airborne Laser is designed to destroy theater ballistic missiles during the early stages of their flight, while they are still under power and thrusting skyward. It is during this stage that the missiles are easiest to spot. By destroying them at this stage, a missile's components tend to fall back on the launching country, an incentive for that country not to use chemical or biological warheads. (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)

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