Airborne Laser program dumped after 16 years and billions spent in development
By End the Lie
While this – and so many other projects being developed by our military – seem like complete science fiction, indeed the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) was actually being worked on for quite some time.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency announced on February 14 that the Airborne Laser Test Bed underwent its final flight and is now being transferred into long-term storage at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
However, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) does say that the Airborne Laser Test Bed “demonstrated the viability of a directed energy weapon for missile defense by tracking and destroying a boosting, representative foreign ballistic missile in flight.”
As such, the MDA is continuing their efforts to create more efficient laser technology in order to support missile defense projects. They are planning on doing this in an attempt to greatly cut down on the complexity and costs associated with future directed energy weapons projects.
The jet will be resting indefinitely in the Air Force’s so-called Maintenance and Regeneration Group, which Danger Room rightly points out is colloquially referred to as “The Boneyard.” Chances are this plane isn’t coming back, but the MDA’s statement makes it clear that they are not giving up on this kind of directed energy technology.
The Department of Defense’s budget for 2013, which was just released last week, brought some large (but still far from what I would consider adequate) cuts to their spending.
This was likely a major factor in the decision to send the Airborne Laser Test Bed to the Boneyard along with the MDA’s move to shelve the SBX.
In total, the MDA had around $1 billion cut from their budget, although they are increasing funding for some projects like the SM-3 IIB interceptor which is set to receive $224.1 million in the 2013 fiscal year whereas it only received $13.4 million in fiscal 2012.
The ALTB was first created by the U.S. Air Force all the way back in 1996, after which it was transferred to the MDA.
The Airborne Laser was supposedly going to become “America’s First Light Saber,” although I think we all know that dream was far from realized.
After all of this time, they were unable to fix some of the most problematic aspects of the project.
Some of the major issues were that the laser requires a mixture of toxic chemicals to power it, which all together weighs quite a bit, thus requiring the 747 as a platform.
It was also unable to down missiles at a significant distance, which means that if they wanted to shoot down an Iranian missile with the system they would have to be flying the plane within the borders of Iran.
To make matters even worse for “America’s First Light Saber,” the laser’s accuracy was significantly hindered by less-than-ideal atmospheric conditions.
Altogether it made it far from an ideal weapon, especially since its presence alone in the airspace of a sovereign state could be seen as an act of aggression.
After 13 years of development, the jet was already $4 billion over budget, which is quite astonishing given it had a staggeringly large budget of $500 million per year. By 2009 it was also eight years behind schedule and if it was actually made to work properly it would cost an estimated $92,000 per hour of flight time.
The fact that they would dump so much money into a project for this long which had so little promise and such huge costs is absolutely disgusting. This is especially true when one thinks of all of the horrific conditions so many Americans are forced to live in thanks to the criminal elite and their cronies on Capitol Hill.
Some of our so-called representatives seem to be aware of this, yet they fail to actually take the steps to stop it from continuing.
For instance, in 2009 then Representative Ellen Tauscher, who has interestingly been the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs since June 26, 2009 said, “We can no longer continue to do everything and explore every potential technology.”
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also canceled the development of a second Airborne Laser in 2009, saying that he didn’t “know anybody at the Department of Defense who thinks that this program should, or would, ever be operationally deployed.”
The glaring question this raises is: why on Earth why would they continue to develop it if no one at the Department of Defense actually thought it would be deployed operationally?
The next year, in 2010, the ALTB successfully knocked a “threat representative” missile out of flight from a distance of 50 miles. This resulted in the program receiving an additional $40 million in funding even though the Secretary of Defense himself admitted it wasn’t realistic.
That same year the device failed two tests in a row.
Here is a video of a test in 2010:
Billions of dollars, over a decade and a half of research and what do we have to show for it? Nothing.
Maybe they will now spend their time and money developing more sensible technology like a system for monitoring everything across the entire world. For those who can’t tell, I am being sarcastic. We shouldn’t be spending a cent of our non-existent funds on any of this nonsense.
They claim it helped iron out some problems in missile defense logistics and will help future directed energy weapons projects but the fact that all the way back in 2009 it was admitted that it would not realistically be operationally deployed yet they kept spending our money is troubling.
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