Feeds

US raygun jumbo fluffs another test missile-blast attempt

Blaster-biggun in Nork shot splash cockup

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The United States' enormous jumbo-jet-mounted raygun, the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB), has suffered another embarrassing test failure. During an attempt to beam down a target missile off the Californian coast last week, a technical hitch saw the 747's blaster cannon fail to fire up.

Warfare of the future as foreseen by the Missile Defence Agency. Credit: Boeing

It was all going to be so cool ...

According to an MDA statement (pathetically headlined "Airborne Laser Test Bed Exercise Conducted"):

The objective of this mission was for the ALTB to destroy a solid-fuel, short-range ballistic missile while its rocket motors were still thrusting.

The Terrier Black Brant target missile was launched successfully. Preliminary indications are that the system acquired and tracked the plume (rocket exhaust) of the target, but never transitioned to active tracking. Therefore, the high energy lasing did not occur.

Program officials will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the transition failure. The intermittent performance of a valve within the laser system is being examined.

Originally the ALTB, then known as the Airborne Laser (ABL), was expected to attack long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) able to deliver nuclear weapons to the continental USA from far afield.

The idea was that a fleet of ABL laser-jumbos could patrol within raying distance of enemy missile fields in North Korea and burn down ICBM rocket stacks as they soared upward. This is a good time to blast an ICBM, as once it is out of the atmosphere the warhead(s) will separate from the upper stage. Identifying the actual warheads among a "threat cluster" (also including bits of upper stage and possible purpose built decoys) is difficult and striking at them is more so. Shooting them down as they re-enter at hypersonic speed is also very challenging.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.