US Cuts Key Test Delay
For Airborne Laser Effort
by Robert Wall
04/25/00 03:09:16 PM U.S. EDT
The U.S. Air Force will only have to delay by one year the first ballistic missile shoot-down attempt for its Boeing 747-based Airborne Laser, rather than two as first expected.
The test, slated for 2003, was on the verge of being delayed at least two years when the service took almost $1 billion out of the program. But plans now call for the shoot-down of a boosting ballistic missile in 2004, after which the program would slow, said USAF Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, the Joint Staff’s director of force structure and resources, who oversaw the ABL program in a prior assignment.
If the intercept attempt succeeds it would likely free up money within the Pentagon to keep the program on schedule, Carlson added. Some U.S. lawmakers have vowed to restore the ABL funds, but Carlson said that even so, the intercept attempt would not be returned to 2003. Instead, the money would be used for additional testing to gain higher confidence in the missile defense system.