Strategic Weapons: November 1, 1999


A team including Boeing, TRW, and Lockheed Martin has completed a four-month test of the laser that will eventually arm the Airborne Laser weapon system (mounted in a Boeing-747; set to make air-to-air tests in 2003). The team announced that all goals were met, all requirements were exceeded, and the program is on schedule. The megawatt-class oxygen-iodine laser will be used to shoot down tactical and theater ballistic missiles during the boost phase, while still over enemy territory. Production of the laser modules for the initial test aircraft will begin next year. --Stephen V Cole

The Army's THAAD (Theater High Altitude Area Defense) missile cannot be tested against incoming missiles traveling faster than 5km/second because of the 1972 ABM Treaty. Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles such as North Korea's Taepo-Dong-1 approach their targets at 8km/sec or more.--Stephen V Cole


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