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BoeingYAL­1

FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

BoeingYAL­1­Wikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

TheBoeingYAL­1AirborneLaserTestbed(formerlyAirborne

TheYAL­1withalow­powerlaserwastest­firedinflightatan

airbornetargetin2007. [2] Ahigh­energylaserwasusedto interceptatesttargetinJanuary2010, [3] andthefollowing month,successfullydestroyedtwotestmissiles. [4] Fundingfor

theprogramwascutin2010andtheprogramwascanceledin

December2011. [5] ItmadeitsfinalflightonFebruary14,2012 toDavis–MonthanAirForceBaseinTucson,Arizonatobe

scrappedinSeptember2014afterallusablepartswere

removed.

Contents

1 Development

1 Development

1.1 Origins

1.1 Origins

1.2 Testing

1.2 Testing

1.3 Cancellation

1.3 Cancellation

2 Design

2 Design

2.1 COIL

2.1 COIL

2.2 UseagainstICBMsvsTBMs

2.2 UseagainstICBMsvsTBMs

2.3 Interceptsequence

2.3 Interceptsequence

2.4 Operationalconsiderations

2.4 Operationalconsiderations

2.5 Useagainstothertargets

2.5 Useagainstothertargets

3 Operators

3 Operators

4 Specifications

4 Specifications

5 Seealso

5 Seealso

6 References

6 References

7 Externallinks

7 Externallinks

YAL­1AirborneLaser

YAL­1AirborneLaser ABLaircraftduringflight Role AirborneLaser(ABL)anti­ballistic missileweaponssystem Manufacturer

ABLaircraftduringflight

Role

Manufacturer Boeing

Firstflight

July18,2002

Status

Canceled

Primaryuser UnitedStatesAirForce

Numberbuilt 1

DevelopedfromBoeing747­400F

Serial

Career

00­0001

Development

Origins

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TheAirborneLaserLaboratorywasaless­powerfulprototypeinstalledina

BoeingNKC­135A.Itshotdownseveralmissilesintestsconductedinthe

1980s. [6]

TheAirborneLaserprogramwasinitiatedbytheUSAirForcein1996

withtheawardingofaproductdefinitionriskreductioncontractto Boeing'sABLteam. [7][8] In2001,theprogramwastransferredtotheMDA andconvertedtoanacquisitionprogram. [8]

Thedevelopmentofthesystemwasbeingaccomplishedbyateamof contractors.BoeingDefense,Space&Securityprovidestheaircraft,the managementteamandthesystemsintegrationprocesses.Northrop GrummanwassupplyingtheCOIL,andLockheedMartinwassupplying thenoseturretandthefirecontrolsystem. [8][9]

In2001,aretiredAirIndia747­200wasacquiredbytheairforce,and

truckedwithoutitswingsfromtheMojaveAirporttoEdwardsAirForce BasewheretheairframewasincorporatedintotheSystemIntegration Laboratory(SIL)buildingatEdwards'BirkFlightTestCenter,tobeusedto fitcheckandtestthevariouscomponents. [10][11] TheSILwasbuilt primarilytotesttheCOILatasimulatedoperationalaltitude,andduring

thatphaseoftheprogram,thelaserwasoperatedover50times,achieving

lasingdurationsrepresentativeofactualoperationalengagements.These testsfullyqualifiedthesystemsothatitcouldbeintegratedintotheactual aircraft.Followingthecompletionofthetests,thelaboratorywas dismantled,andthe747­200fuselagewasremoved. [11]

YAL­1undergoingmodificationin November2004,at EdwardsAFB

YAL­1undergoingmodificationin

November2004,atEdwardsAFB

ContractorsdismantletheBoeing747 fuselageportionoftheSystem IntegrationLaboratoryattheBirk FlightTestCenter.

ContractorsdismantletheBoeing747

fuselageportionoftheSystem

IntegrationLaboratoryattheBirk

FlightTestCenter.

Boeingcompletedinitialmodificationstoanew747­400Foffthe

productionlinein2002,culminatinginitsfirstflightonJuly18,2002fromBoeing'sWichita,Kansasfacility.

GroundtestingoftheCOILresultedinitssuccessfulfiringin2004.TheYAL­1wasassignedtothe417thFlight

TestSquadronAirborneLaserCombinedTestForceatEdwardsAFB.

Testing

BesidestheCOIL,thesystemalsoincludestwokilowatt­classTargetIlluminatorLasersfortargettracking.On

March15,2007,theYAL­1successfullyfiredthislaserinflight,hittingitstarget.ThetargetwasanNC­135EBig

Crowtestaircraftthathasbeenspeciallymodifiedwitha"signboard"targetonitsfuselage.Thetestvalidatedthe system'sabilitytotrackanairbornetargetandmeasureandcompensateforatmosphericdistortion. [9]

Thenextphaseinthetestprograminvolvedthe"surrogatehigh­energylaser"(SHEL),astand­infortheCOIL, anddemonstratedthetransitionfromtargetilluminationtosimulatedweaponsfiring.TheCOILsystemwas installedintheaircraftandundergoinggroundtestingbyJuly2008. [12]

InanApril6,2009pressconference,theSecretaryofDefenseRobertGatesrecommendedthecancellationofthe

plannedsecondABLaircraftandsaidthattheprogramshouldreturntoaResearchandDevelopmenteffort."The ABLprogramhassignificantaffordabilityandtechnologyproblemsandtheprogram’sproposedoperationalroleis highlyquestionable,"Gatessaidinmakingtherecommendation. [13]

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BoeingYAL­1­Wikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

TherewasatestlaunchofftheCaliforniacoastonJune6,2009. [14] Atthattimeitwasanticipatedthatthenew

AirborneLaserAircraftcouldbereadyforoperationby2013afterasuccessfultest.OnAugust13,2009thefirst

in­flighttestoftheYAL­1culminatedwithasuccessfulfiringoftheSHELataninstrumentedtestmissile. [15]

TheU.S.MissileDefenseAgency(MDA)onAugust18,2009successfullyfiredthehigh­energylaseraboardthe

aircraftinflightforthefirsttime.TheYAL­1tookofffromEdwardsAirForceBaseandfireditshigh­energylaser

whileflyingovertheCaliforniaHighDesert.Thelaserwasfiredintoanonboardcalorimeter,whichcapturedthe beamandmeasureditspower. [16]

InJanuary2010,thehigh­energylaserwasusedin­flighttointercept,althoughnotdestroy,atestMissile

AlternativeRangeTargetInstrument(MARTI)intheboostphaseofflight. [3] OnFebruary11,2010inatestat PointMuguNavalAirWarfareCenter­WeaponsDivisionSeaRangeoffthecentralCaliforniacoast,thesystem successfullydestroyedaliquid­fuelboostingballisticmissile.Lessthananhourafterthatfirstmissilehadbeen destroyed,asecondmissile—asolid­fueldesign—had,asannouncedbytheMDA,been"successfullyengaged", butnotdestroyed,andthatalltestcriteriahadbeenmet.TheMDAannouncementalsonotedthatABLhad destroyedanidenticalsolid­fuelmissileinflighteightdaysearlier. [17] Thistestwasthefirsttimethatadirected­

engagementrequired50%lessdwelltimethanexpectedtodestroythemissile,thesecondengagementonthe

solid­fuelmissile,lessthananhourlater,hadtobecutshortbeforeitcouldbedestroyedbecauseofa"beam misalignment"problem. [18]

Cancellation

SecretaryofDefenseGatessummarizedfundamentalconcernswiththe

practicalityoftheprogramconcept:

"Idon'tknowanybodyattheDepartmentofDefense,Mr. Tiahrt,whothinksthatthisprogramshould,orwould,everbe operationallydeployed.Therealityisthatyouwouldneeda

lasersomethinglike20to30timesmorepowerfulthanthe

chemicallaserintheplanerightnowtobeabletogetany distancefromthelaunchsitetofire So,rightnowtheABL wouldhavetoorbitinsidethebordersofIraninordertobe abletotryanduseitslasertoshootdownthatmissileinthe boostphase.Andifyouweretooperationalizethisyouwould

belookingat10to20747s,atabillionandahalfdollars

apiece,and$100millionayeartooperate.Andthere'snobody

inuniformthatIknowwhobelievesthatthisisaworkable concept." [19]

Instoragewithenginesremoved. Ultimatelybrokenupon25 September2014.

Instoragewithenginesremoved.

Ultimatelybrokenupon25

September2014.

TheAirForcedidnotrequestfurtherfundsfortheAirborneLaserfor2010;AirForceChiefofStaffSchwartzhas

saidthatthesystem"doesnotreflectsomethingthatisoperationallyviable". [20][21]

InDecember2011,itwasreportedthattheprojectwastobeendedafter16yearsofdevelopmentandacostof

overUS$5billion. [22] Whileinitscurrentform,arelativelylowpowerlasermountedonanunprotectedairliner

maynotbeapracticalordefensibleweapon,theYAL­1testbedisconsideredtohaveproventhatairmounted

energyweaponswithincreasedrangeandpowercouldbeanotherviablewayofdestroyingotherwiseverydifficult

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tointerceptsub­orbitalballisticmissilesandrockets.On12February2012,theYAL­1flewitsfinalflightand

landedatDavis­MonthanAFB,Arizona,whereitwasplacedinstorageattheAMARGuntilitwasultimately scrappedinSeptember2014afterallusablepartswereremoved. [23] [24]

Asof2013,studieswereunderwaytoapplythelessonsoftheYAL­1bymountinglaseranti­missiledefenseson

Unmannedcombatairvehiclesthatcouldflyabovethealtitudelimitsoftheconvertedjetliner. [25]

By2015,theMissileDefenseAgencyhadstartedeffortstodeployalaseronahigh­altitudeUAV.Ratherthana

mannedjetlinercontainingtoxicchemicalsflyingat40,000feet(12km),firingamegawattlaserfromarangeof

"tensofkilometers"ataboost­phasemissile,thenewconceptenvisionedanunmannedaircraftcarryinganelectric

laserflyingat65,000feet(20km),firingthesamepowerlevelattargetspotentiallyupto"hundredsofkilometers"

awayforsurvivabilityagainstairdefenses.WhiletheABL'slaserrequired55kg(121lb)togenerateonekW,the

MDAwantedtoreducethatto2–5kg(4.4–11.0lb)perkW,totaling5,000lb(2,300kg)foramegawatt.Unlikethe

ABL,whichrequireditscrewtorestandchemicalfueltobereloaded,anelectriclaserwouldneedonlypower generatingfromfueltofire,soaUAVwithin­flightrefuelingcouldhavenear­inexhaustibleenduranceand armament.A"low­powerdemonstrator"hasbeenplannedtoflysometimeinoraround2021. [26]

Design

COIL

ArtistimpressionoftwoYAL­1As shootingdownballisticmissiles.The laserbeamsarehighlightedredfor

ArtistimpressionoftwoYAL­1As

shootingdownballisticmissiles.The

laserbeamsarehighlightedredfor

visibility(inreality,theywouldbe

invisibletothenakedeye).

TheheartofthesystemwastheCOIL,comprisingsixinterconnected

modules,eachaslargeasanSUV.Eachmoduleweighedabout6,500

pounds(3,000kg).Whenfired,thelaserproducedenoughenergyinafive­

secondbursttopoweratypicalAmericanhouseholdformorethanan hour. [9]

UseagainstICBMsvsTBMs

TheUSAirForcesaysthe aircraftholdstheworld's largestturretassembly.

TheUSAirForcesaysthe

aircraftholdstheworld's

largestturretassembly.

TheABLwasdesignedforuseagainst

haveashorterrangeandflymoreslowly

thanICBMs.TheMDAhasrecently

suggestedtheABLmightbeusedagainst

ICBMsduringtheirboostphase.Thiscould

requiremuchlongerflightstogetinposition,andmightnotbepossiblewithout

flyingoverhostileterritory.Liquid­fueledICBMs,whichhavethinnerskins,and

remaininboostphaselongerthanTBMs,mightbeeasiertodestroy.

IftheABLhadachieveditsdesigngoals,itcouldhavedestroyedliquid­fueled

ICBMsupto600kmaway.Toughersolid­fueledICBMdestructionrangewould

likelyhavebeenlimitedto300km,tooshorttobeusefulinmanyscenarios,

Defense. [27]

Interceptsequence

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BoeingYAL­1­Wikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

TheABLsystemusedinfraredsensorsforinitialmissiledetection.Afterinitialdetection,threelowpowertracking laserscalculatedmissilecourse,speed,aimpoint,andairturbulence.Airturbulencedeflectsanddistortslasers. TheABLadaptiveopticsusetheturbulencemeasurementtocompensateforatmosphericerrors.Themainlaser,

locatedinaturretontheaircraftnose,couldbefiredfor3to5seconds,causingthemissiletobreakupinflight

nearthelauncharea.TheABLwasnotdesignedtointerceptTBMsintheterminal,ordescending,flightphase. Thus,theABLwouldhavehadtohavebeenwithinafewhundredkilometersofthemissilelaunchpoint.Allof

thiswouldhaveoccurredinapproximately8to12seconds.

Operationalconsiderations

TheABLdidnotburnthroughordisintegrateitstarget.Itheatedthemissileskin, weakeningit,causingfailurefromhighspeedflightstress.Thelaserusedchemical fuelsimilartorocketpropellanttogeneratethehighlaserpower.Planscalledfor

each747tocarryenoughlaserfuelforabout20shots,orperhapsasmanyas40

low­powershotsagainstfragileTBMs.Torefuelthelaser,YAL­1wouldhaveto

land.Theaircraftitselfcouldhavebeenrefueledinflight,whichwouldhave enabledittostayaloftforlongperiods.Preliminaryoperationalplanscalledforthe ABLtobeescortedbyfightersandpossiblyelectronicwarfareaircraft.TheABL aircraftwouldlikelyhavehadtoorbitnearpotentiallaunchsites(locatedinhostile countries)forlongperiods,flyingafigure­eightpatternthatallowstheaircraftto keepthelaseraimedtowardthemissiles. [28]

Atechnicianevaluatesthe interactionofmultiplelasers thatwillbeusedaboardthe AirborneLaser.

Atechnicianevaluatesthe

interactionofmultiplelasers

thatwillbeusedaboardthe

AirborneLaser.

Useagainstothertargets

Intheory,anairbornelasercouldbeusedagainsthostilefighteraircraft,cruise

missiles,orevenlow­earth­orbitsatellites(seeanti­satelliteweapon).However,the

YAL­1infraredtargetacquisitionsystemwasdesignedtodetectthehotexhaustof

TBMsinboostphase.Satellitesandotheraircrafthaveamuchlowerheatsignature,makingthemmoredifficultto

detect.Asidefromthedifficultyofacquiringandtrackingadifferentkindoftarget,groundtargetssuchasarmored

vehiclesandpossiblyevenaircraftarenotfragileenoughtobedamagedbyamegawatt­classlaser.

AnanalysisbytheUnionofConcernedScientistsdiscussespotentialairbornelaseruseagainstlowearthorbit satellites. [29] Anotherprogram,theAdvancedTacticalLaser,envisionsair­to­grounduseofamegawatt­classlaser mountedonanaircraftbettersuitedforlowaltitudeflight.

Operators

Operators UnitedStates UnitedStatesAirForce 417thFlightTestSquadron

Specifications

Generalcharacteristics

Crew:6 6

Length:70.6m(231ft10in)

Wingspan:64.4m(211ft5in)

Height:19.4m(63ft8in)

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Max.takeoffweight:396,890kg(875,000lb)

Powerplant:GeneralElectricCF6­80C2B5Fturbofans,276kN(62,100lbf)each

Performance

Maximumspeed:Mach0.92(630mph,1,015km/h)at35,000ftaltitude

Cruisespeed:Mach0.84(575mph,925km/h)at35,000ftaltitude

Armament

COIL COIL

Avionics

1×ABLinfrareddetectorsystem

2×TargetIlluminatorlasers

Seealso

Relateddevelopment

Aircraftofcomparablerole,configurationandera

Relatedlists

References

Defense.May12,2004.

28,2010,attheWaybackMachine.

fromtheoriginalonOctober20,2013.

6."AirborneLaserLaboratory".globalsecurity.org.

boeing.com.

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BoeingYAL­1­Wikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

10.Radecki,AlanK.(2005).AMojaveScrapbook.Mojave

Books.

globalsecuritynewswire.org.

DefenseAgency.February11,2010.

18.AviationWeek&SpaceTechnology,February22,2010,

p.26.

airforcetimes.com.

27."APSStudy".aps.org.

28.Congress(2011).CongressionalRecord.Government

PrintingOffice.

F.Tarsha­Kurdi,T.Landes,P.Grussenmeyer,E.Smigiel.”Newapproachforautomaticdetectionof buildingsinairbornelaserscannerdatausingfirstechoonly”.WorkshopoftheISPRS.ComIII,

PhotogrammetriccomputervisionPCV'06Bonn,GermanySeptember20–22,2006.

Externallinks

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