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News Release


Release No: 636-96
November 12, 1996


The Air Force today announced a $1.1 billion contract was awarded to Boeing Defense and Space Group, Seattle, Wash., to produce a prototype Attack Laser-aircraft capable of destroying theater ballistic missiles.

Under a cost-plus award fee contract, Boeing will produce the newly designated YAL-1A, or prototype Attack Laser- aircraft, using a commercial 747-400F airframe by the fall of 2002. Boeing is teamed with two other companies: TRW Space and Electronics Group, Redondo Beach, Calif., which will develop the laser, and Lockheed-Martin Missiles & Space, Sunnyvale, Calif., which will be in charge of beam- and fire-control development. Boeing will manage systems integration, aircraft modifications, and the development of battle management systems (computers and software coupled to communications, intelligence and weapons- related instrumentation to detect, engage and defeat the attacking missiles).

This award, which is also termed an Airborne Laser Program Definition and Risk Reduction contract, culminates a two-year concept definition phase in which the Boeing team competed with another team led by Rockwell International. The two companies have been defining a high-energy airborne laser system to defend against theater ballistic missiles during their "boost" phase, or that portion of a missile's flight when it is still under power. An airborne Attack Laser could circle over friendly airspace while able to destroy multiple tactical ballistic missiles shortly after they are launched hundreds of miles away.

This contract includes detailed design, integration and test of the YAL-1A, with delivery of the 747-400F aircraft to Wichita, Kan., for modification in the spring of 1999. The contract will culminate with the destruction of a boosting theater ballistic missile by the fall of 2002.

A follow-on contract of approximately $4.5 billion to complete engineering, manufacturing, development and production efforts of a seven aircraft fleet will be awarded following successful completion of the PDRR contract. The first three aircraft are expected by 2006 and the full seven aircraft fleet by 2008.

The program office is located at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and is supported by technology development and support from the Air Force Phillips Laboratory's Laser and Imaging Directorate. Additional information can be obtained from the Phillips Laboratory Office of Public Affairs at Kirtland AFB, (505) 846-1911.

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