Earlier this month, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) tested the Airborne Laser Test Bed, designed to destroy a short-range ballistic missile during the boost phase. A Boeing 747 tracked the target, but the experiment ended early after a software malfunction. From the MDA:
“The Agency plans to resume flight experiments beginning with tests of the software repair on September 13 leading to a lethal shootdown experiment involving a solid-fuel target missile by the end of this month. A mid-October experiment is in the planning stages that will involve lasing a solid-fuel missile at three times the range of last February’s successful destruction of a liquid-fuel missile.”
In related news, UPI reports that an orbiting missile defense satellite successfully transferred target track data from its acquisition sensor to its tracking sensor.
Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector vice president of missile defense and missile warning programs Gabe Watson said, “This is a major success for the STSS program. We proved that the STSS satellites can autonomously transition from target acquisition and track mode using the acquisition sensor to target precision track mode using the multiple band track sensor. All of these operations occurred as intended, with no operator intervention. This is the same type and sequence of functions that will be performed on-board during subsequent MDA missile tests.”