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Other Nations Interested In Airborne Laser System

By | July 21, 2008

      Boeing 747 Does Well In ABL Work; MDA Not Seeking Different Plane

      Some friendly nations have shown interest in acquiring the U.S. Airborne Laser (ABL) system to defend themselves from incoming enemy missiles, according to Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering III, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director.

      Obering also said that MDA is satisfied with the highly modified Boeing 747-400 jumbo-jet aircraft serving as the test bed for the Airborne Laser (ABL) missile defense system, and therefore MDA would be unlikely to hold a competition for the ABL production-version aircraft.

      Asked whether MDA intends to put the ABL on some other plane when the program moves from development into production, Obering replied, "No, we’re very satisfied with the 747, in terms of the airframe."

      On global interest in the ABL, Obering declined to specify just which nations might wish to procure the system, but noted that the United States already cooperates with friendly countries in various missile defense programs.

      Some 18 nations work with the United States, in some form, on missile defense, he said.

      That includes, for example, Japan, which is equipping ships with the Aegis weapon control system and the Standard Missile interceptor. Other nations are involved in joint research and development with the United States on anti-missile systems, to procurement.

      A key point here, he said, is that these links demonstrate that it isn’t just the United States which sees a growing threat in the proliferation of longer-range missiles among many nations around the world.

      Many friendly nations are concerned at the increasing number of "countries using ballistic missiles as [a] supplement [to their] air forces," Obering said. Consequently, "a growing number of nations are very, very interested in collaborating with us and gaining some type of missile defense capability themselves."

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