Sunday, December 7, 2008

Set Phasers to Full

Meet the YAL-1. An unassuming designation for an amazing piece of technology. This is one of the first steps towards the ‘missile shield’ envisioned several decades ago.

What you are looking at is a huge turret housing a chemical oxygen iodine laser mounted on the nose of a massive Boeing 747 aircraft. What does it do? It shoots down missiles at ranges out to 600 km. Specifically, it targets missiles while they are in their vulnerable boost stage. The laser targets a missile in its launch stage, heating the frame of the missile. This weakens the airframe of the missile and causes it to break up.

“The ABL system uses infrared sensors for initial missile detection. After initial detection, three low power tracking lasers calculate missile course, speed, aimpoint, and air turbulence. Air turbulence deflects and distorts the laser beam. The ABL adaptive optics use the turbulence measurement to compensate for atmospheric errors. The main laser, located in a turret on the aircraft nose, is fired for 3 to 5 seconds, causing the missile to break up in flight near the launch area.”

While this weapon was designed with shorter range missiles in mind, aka Scud missiles, it could be adapted for future use against ICBM.

There were many that mocked Reagan’s Star Wars program in the 80s, calling it science fiction. That it may have been, at the time. However, we will now begin to see the fruits of such long term thinking.

More here, here, and here.

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