The Wall of Fire
The Wall of Fire is the next generation defense system that can destroy high speed missiles. Lockheed Martin is using a 747 as a host for the system. If all goes as planned then the United States will be a little safer. Some critics though are skeptical about weather the system can really work.
Lockheed Martin and Boeing are working together on the optics for the prototype ABL (Airborne Laser). The ABL system and the 747 are at Edwards Air Force Base for test fitting of the laser. Although this 747 is just for testing, another plane will be used when testing is completed. The YAL-1A as it is officially termed will be fitted into a passenger jet with a larger upper deck to house the crew. The test plane in a former Air India jet and is smaller and much more cramped with the laser equipment installed.
The laser will be installed in the nose of the 747 on fast moving turret. Missiles moving at several times the speed of sound will be no match for the ABL. The former approach of firing missiles at missiles was never really effective. Lasers, though, travel at the speed of light and can be tuned to hit a moving target hundreds of miles away. Air Force Col. Ellen Pawlikowski who heads the 1.6 billion dollar program says, "When talking about the ability to put force on target, there is nothing faster or more precise than a laser".
The high energy laser which was created by Northrop Grumman will be ready to shoot down a scud-like missile by the end of 2004. The weapon could be used in case of an emergency until at least seven more are built. The Airborne Missile will carry enough reactants for the laser...