Missile Defense Agency press Release

21 October 2004
Airborne Laser Readied For Upcoming Ground and Flight Tests
On Saturday, October 16, 2004, the Airborne Laser (ABL) aircraft, designated YAL-1, was rolled out of its hangar at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in preparation for the platform's return to flight testing in the upcoming weeks.
The ABL, a component in the Missile Defense Agency's plan to develop and field a "layered defense," is a revolutionary program using a megawatt, high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) on a Boeing 747-400F aircraft to detect, track and destroy a ballistic missile shortly after it is launched, called the "boost phase" of flight.

22 October 2004

The Missile Defense Agency would like to clarify the phrase "shortly after it is launched" from out October 21 news release.  Just to be clear, the laser-carrying aircraft is designed to destroy a ballistic missile shortly after the missile is launched, not the aircraft.  Aircraft do not have a "boost phase" and thus cannot be shot down.

23 October 2004

Not that it's that big a deal, but we apologize for stating that "aircraft cannot be shot down" yesterday.  They can of course be shot down, and a lumbering old pig of a plane like a 747 can be shot down even by junky old North Korean MiGs.

24 October 2004

Not that that would ever happen.  I mean, obviously, the ABL plane would be protected by fighter escorts and such, to prevent North Korea from shooting it down.  That would be pretty silly - spending billions of dollars on an airplane that could be shot down by a forty-year old MiG.

25 October 2004

No, it is not the same.  It is not silly to spend billions of dollars developing the laser plane even if we never use it.  If we never use it, it will have been a success in preventing or deterring an enemy attack on America.

26  October 2004

OK, Mr. Smarty pants "I can parse a sentence."  Yes, technically, if we never use the laser plane because it happens to be on the ground when North Korea launches a missile at Seattle, that would be bad.  But that's not going to happen.

27 October 2004

How do we know that's not going to happen?  We're going to buy so many of them that we can maintain 24-hour patrols over the Sea of Japan, Mr. Smarty Pants. 

28 October 2004

How much will that cost, for aviation fuel for the laser plane, fighter escorts, AWACS, and refueling aircraft, when oil is at $55 a barrel?  Well, a lot .  But we can finance it with tax cuts.

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