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Northrop Grumman-Built Beacon Illuminator Laser Shows High Reliability During Ground Tests And In-Flight Tests


The Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC)-built Beacon Illuminator Laser (BILL), which is part of the targeting system for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser (ABL) aircraft, has shown high reliability during ground tests that began in July 2006 and in flight tests initiated late last year.

In-flight firings consistently lasted longer than 90 seconds, reaching the same power level achieved during ground tests. Throughout the stressing flight environment that included take-off and landing, BILL maintained better than the required tolerances for target engagement. All firings were contained within the aircraft.

BILL is a solid-state, kilowatt-class laser that will measure atmospheric conditions, allowing the beam control/fire control system to compensate for atmospheric turbulence that the missile-killing, megawatt-class chemical laser would encounter in its path to a target.

The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) is the prime contractor for ABL, which will provide a speed-of-light capability to destroy all classes of ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight. Boeing provides the modified aircraft and the battle management system and is the overall systems integrator. ABL partners are Northrop Grumman, which supplies the high-energy laser and the beacon illuminator laser, and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), which provides the nose-mounted turret and the beam control/fire control system.


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