Didn't see a news section but thought some might get a kick out of this.


WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Missile Defense Agency tonight plans to conduct a second test of its Airborne Laser system's ability to destroy an enemy ballistic missile, the agency's chief said today (see GSN, July 28).

The test of the experimental technology is scheduled to occur around 10 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time off the coast of California, Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly said this morning at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. The entire event is expected to last about 50 seconds.
The system, housed in a converted Boeing 747, while in flight would shoot a directed energy laser beam at a target resembling an enemy short-range ballistic missile. The platform successfully destroyed its first simulated short-range target in February, the MDA chief said.
The latest exercise was originally slated for two weeks ago, but the agency experienced difficulties with the stand that holds up the target, O'Reilly told reporters. The test was rescheduled to take place Sunday, but had to be postponed again after a software module that operates some of the target's tracking systems had to be rebooted.
"Whenever we operate a test like that, safety is No. 1 and we have to ensure we have clearances from the [Federal Aviation Administration] and so forth ... and we were running out of time in our window," the three-star general said.
The objective for tonight's test will be to shoot down the target at twice the range as the February drill, according to O'Reilly.
"There was a lot of debate about a year ago whether or not we could shoot it down at all," he noted, saying that since the first test the agency has worked out many "theoretical calculations" on how far the laser can transmit through the atmosphere.
The laser system's range is classified but the scope of February test was more than 50 miles, O'Reilly said. "So [tonight's test is] twice beyond that," he added.
"We learned so much from that first test that our conclusion was we can operate at twice the range we thought," the MDA chief told reporters. "We actually had another instrumented test in June that indicated we may be off again and it may even have a greater range."
O'Reilly said he enjoys tests with directed energy because "if you fail, you can turn around and shoot again."