News

Team ABL validates advanced processing architecture

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Feb. 5, 1999 -- Team Airborne Laser -- the Air Force, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and TRW today announced that tests of high-speed commercial computer processors demonstrated the performance needed to manage information that will control critical functions of the weapon system's Beam Control/ Fire Control (BC/FC) segment. The successful tests, conducted by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, Sunnyvale, Calif., and SVS R&D Systems, Albuquerque, NM, addressed a key issue in the development of the weapon system -- how to process vast amounts of complex atmospheric and target data in a short period of time while simultaneously supplying the system's status to the ABL crew. "We now have a functional control system," said Paul Shattuck, Missiles & Space ABL program manager. "These tests validated our architecture and design concept for processing large amounts of information. We can now start the procurement of the processors and stay on track with the hardware and software integration of the weapon system." The processors are the "brains" of the BC/FC segment that tie the entire system together. "Functions of the weapon system must happen quickly and in a coordinated fashion," said Shattuck. "These processors pass and manage information so the entire system can work as one cohesive unit." Information is gathered from various sensors on the ABL aircraft. These sensors provide data about the atmosphere and the intended target. The data is then processed into signals that point the weapon system's high-energy laser to the target. "Sampling the sensor data, processing the information and pointing the laser turret have to be done at up to 10,000 times a second," said Bob Love, Missiles & Space BC/FC Integrated Product Team lead. "These tests validated the quick processing capability needed for this weapon system and underscore the combined efforts between the U.S. Air Force System Program Office, Missiles & Space and SVS R&D Systems." Team ABL's current Program Definition and Risk Reduction (PDRR) contract with the Air Force calls for the team to produce, integrate and flight test the first prototype ABL demonstration system. Team ABL is scheduled to conduct a boost phase 'shoot-down' of a theater ballistic missile in 2003. An ABL Engineering Manufacturing and Development program could begin as early as 2004. The PDRR aircraft will provide the Air Force with a residual operational capability. Team ABL is led by Boeing, which has overall program management and systems integration responsibilities. Boeing is also developing the ABL battle management system and modifying the 747-400 aircraft. Those efforts will be done at their facilities in Seattle, Wash., and Wichita, Kan. TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif., is building the ABL COIL laser and the related ground-support subsystem. Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space is developing the ABL BC/FC system in Sunnyvale. Point of Contact: Jeffery Adams Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Sunnyvale, Calif. 94089 408-742-7606