Strategic Weapons: January 26, 2000


The first 747-400 air cargo jet destined to become an Airborne Laser Anti-Missile Aircraft arrived at a Boeing factory in Kansas on 22 Jan. It will take 18 months to install the oxygen-iodine laser turret in the nose and the power-generating and control systems in the cargo bay. The Pentagon plans to actually test the Airborne Laser against a Scud missile in 2003 and will eventually have seven ABL aircraft available. These could be sent to any region where tension escalates and an attack by theater ballistic or tactical ballistic missiles is considered possible. The seven planes would form two squadrons of three (the seventh plane being a spare). Each squadron, sent to a threatened area, would keep one plane aloft at all times with a second ready to launch immediately while the third is serviced and made ready to assume alert status. --Stephen V Cole


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