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ABL - Turret Ball Conformal WindowLaser weapons are still the stuff of science fiction, but the Pentagon is working to change that. One such weapon, now undergoing tests, is the Airborne Laser, a Boeing 747-400F that's being modified to deliver a beam that can knock missiles out of the sky.
Work on the ABL Beam Control/Fire Control subsystem is taking place at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, Calif. Here, a space systems engineer inspects the Turret Ball Conformal Window through which the laser beams will pass.
Turret on 747
The turret ball assembly will be mounted on the nose of the aircraft. It will be the exit site for the high-energy laser intended to destroy missiles in flight and the return window for low-power lasers that will track the target and assess atmospheric conditions.
ABL in action
This is how the Pentagon envisions the ABL in action. The goal is to interdict missiles shortly after launch when they are in the vulnerable boost phase--and before they get close to U.S. soil.