MCIGuy
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Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sat Oct 14, 2006 2:43 pm

There is news that if all goes well with the planned "shoot down" test of ABL in 2008 and it goes into production, the production model will likely be based on the new 747-8 Freighter model.
Makes sense, no definitive production decision will be made until 2008. By 2009, the 747-400 model that the prototype is based on will be out of production once the 748 production line starts.

Link: FI Article



[Edited 2006-10-14 08:01:37]
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AerospaceFan
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sat Oct 14, 2006 3:17 pm

Yes, it would seem very logical that it would switch over to a 747-8 configuration for future models.

As more and more countries develop ballistic missiles capable of threatening the United States, the utility of a successful ABL program would be obvious, in my view.
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Lt-AWACS
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 3:26 am

Well IIRC the rest of the ABL order was swapped to the conventional upperdeck to allow for more crew space. Wil the 747-8 go "long up top" as well? I can't get the link to work  Sad

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LimaNiner
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 11:28 am

Quoting Lt-AWACS (Reply 2):
the rest of the ABL order

I didn't realize there *was* a "rest of the ABL order" -- I thought the ABL program is at the stage where they're still just "trying to make it actually work". The FI article talks about "Tail 2", so I guess there's at least one more on order...

I really look forward to the live shoot-down demo -- this is one cool weapon.  Smile
 
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STT757
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 11:47 am

Question, could the ABL target Satelites?
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DfwRevolution
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 12:14 pm

Quoting Lt-AWACS (Reply 2):
Well IIRC the rest of the ABL order was swapped to the conventional upperdeck to allow for more crew space. Wil the 747-8 go "long up top" as well?

No, the 747-8F retains the 747-100/200 upper deck.

They could always convert 747-8I, or find second-hand 747-400 on the market. I'm suprised the latter isn't being persued given that it would not be difficult to find a decent number of aircraft from a single source.
 
MCIGuy
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 12:15 pm

Quoting STT757 (Reply 4):
Question, could the ABL target Satelites?

Certainly, if it's above the cloud layer (where it operates anyway) and the "bird" is overhead. The laser also gives it inherent self-defense capabilities, but they don't talk much about either capability. Not that it'd need to defend itself. I'm sure it'll have a fighter escort at all times, probably Raptors.  Wink
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PhilSquares
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 12:31 pm

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 5):
I'm suprised the latter isn't being persued given that it would not be difficult to find a decent number of aircraft from a single source.

The used 744 market right now is extremely tight. It's almost impossible to find any that are not waiting to be converted to the 744BCF.
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 1:20 pm

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 5):
No, the 747-8F retains the 747-100/200 upper deck.

They could always convert 747-8I, or find second-hand 747-400 on the market. I'm suprised the latter isn't being persued given that it would not be difficult to find a decent number of aircraft from a single source.

I'm sure Boeing would deliver a 747-8 with full upper deck, and maindeck converted for freighter including SCD. The short decl is just for cargo height clearence in the main deck further forward. 744BCFs as well as -300s have the rear of the SCD floor lifted/removed to have clearance, but I would doubt the USAF would need that mod...
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DfwRevolution
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 2:05 pm

Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 7):
The used 744 market right now is extremely tight. It's almost impossible to find any that are not waiting to be converted to the 744BCF.

That's not true. There's a substantial number that will be leaving commercial service after 2010-2015. The USAF doesn't need these aircraft today.

Considering that the engineering of both prototypes will be adapted after the 747-400 and used -400 will have lower aquisition cost, it should not be dismissed.
 
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Sun Oct 15, 2006 9:05 pm

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 9):
Considering that the engineering of both prototypes will be adapted after the 747-400 and used -400 will have lower aquisition cost, it should not be dismissed.

You're point is valid, but I think the -400 can be dismissed.

As the article pointed out, B is funding the research as it will provide increased ABL capabilities and mission systems integration.

My take on the article is:
1. B is spending their own money on the 748 frame, they anticipate a production run.
2. "Better missions systems integration", could that mean the first guy that reaches an "Alert Bird", hits a button and the aircraft self starts and by the time the crew straps in, it is ready to taxi and is "armed"?
3. B anticipates improved ABL capabilities and is providing a frame has the capacity, plus it gives them an "in" for a production integration contract.

How many frames do you think it would take to provide a "world wide" umbrella to protect the US and it's allies? My best guess is 30, with 20 on alert status at various OLs.

An advantage of using an ABL over the successful 1980s ASAT launch from an F-15 is it could destroy a satellite (or a dozen satellites from a hostile nation)without generating the amount of debris that the ASAT caused. If we are able to permenantly disable a fleet of satellites without creating enough debris to threaten friendly space resources, the ABL could fulfill multiple strategic missions.

I think this program has a solid future, N. Korea and a Taiwan/China conflict are two reasons.
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Lt-AWACS
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:04 am

Well I had heard that 7 total ABL frames were funded, the last 6 "converted" from -400F to the full upperdeck, but this was from various sources including some folks on the project and IIRC Air Forces Monthly some time ago. I will have to dig around and find it. Thanks for the other link.

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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 3:12 am

[quote=Lt-AWACS,reply=11/quote]

Also look at the Air War College library, it used to be full of EEFIs.
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MCIGuy
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 5:12 am

There have been no ABL frames authorized by the Pentagon yet. Most of the risk lies with Boeing now so I'd quite imagine they'll make the thing work. The current plan calls for a fleet of 7 aircraft including the prototype entering service. The big advantage I see for the 748 is the fact that Boeing says it'll carry more fuel, not for the plane, but for the laser. The COIL uses a volatile mix of chemical to fire the laser and it carries a finite amount. Bigger frame = more fuel = more shots.
I don't think I can see the AF going for the SUD though. They don't need much space up there. The crew rest area on a B-2 is very small, it doesn't need to be huge.
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MrChips
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:00 am

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 5):

They could always convert 747-8I, or find second-hand 747-400 on the market. I'm suprised the latter isn't being persued given that it would not be difficult to find a decent number of aircraft from a single source.

From what I've gathered, the US Air Force no longer looks kindly on purchasing second-hand aircraft. The difficulties encountered in the E-8 JSTARS program with respect to different aircraft configurations, corrosion/fatigue repairs and the like taught them a hard lesson about buying fleets of second-hand aircraft. It's why they likely wouldn't buy anything other than new-build aircraft for any major procurement program in the future.
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LimaNiner
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:16 am

Quoting STT757 (Reply 4):
could the ABL target Satelites?

Probably, but that cuts both ways: the U.S. is probably more dependent on satellites than most (all?) potential adversaries, so starting a new "space arms race" is likely to push weapons development in a direction that would hurt the U.S. more than the others. Of course, the Chinese are already experimenting with targeting U.S. satellites to temporarily blind them, so maybe that arms race has already begun...

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 10):
2. "Better missions systems integration", could that mean the first guy that reaches an "Alert Bird", hits a button and the aircraft self starts and by the time the crew straps in, it is ready to taxi and is "armed"?

Would it be an advantage to go even one step further and start the plane remotely, e.g. when the alert is sounded, a signal is transmitted via radio (or a long cable) to "start everything"? For backup, there could always be a button on the plane itself, at the point of entry.

Quoting MCIGuy (Reply 13):
I don't think I can see the AF going for the SUD though. They don't need much space up there. The crew rest area on a B-2 is very small, it doesn't need to be huge.

But the B-2 only has 2 crew members (right?), so I imagine a single bunk is enough, whereas an ABL probably has a crew of 10-20 (?? just a guess).

By the way, I've always wondered: what kind of lavatory facilities do planes with super long missions like the B-2 have on board? Is there somewhere for the crew to... uhhh... do some business? IIRC, U-2 pilots had bags strapped to them. Is that still the case today?
 
MCIGuy
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 10:02 am

Quoting LimaNiner (Reply 15):
By the way, I've always wondered: what kind of lavatory facilities do planes with super long missions like the B-2 have on board? Is there somewhere for the crew to... uhhh... do some business? IIRC, U-2 pilots had bags strapped to them. Is that still the case today?

The Beak (B-2A) has a chemical toilet lav.
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Lt-AWACS
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:22 pm

Quoting MCIGuy (Reply 13):
I don't think I can see the AF going for the SUD though. They don't need much space up there. The crew rest area on a B-2 is very small, it doesn't need to be huge.

yeah, I've been in a B-2 cockpit and know several B-2 pilots. There is rest area for one, to lay down uncomfortably on whatever pad you bring, and a stinking little pot for a lav. Not exactly what they are looking for on the ABL. According to the fellow ABM folks I know who have actually flown the ABL airframe the crew rest area and bunks are similar to the bunks on the E-3 and the galley of the E-4. The B-2 option is not happening.

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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:37 pm

Ironically, China was accused of taking laser shots at one of our satellites recently, so I say we aim down, over, AND UP...

Also, we have fighter based missiles that can reach a low orbit satellite anyway, so what is the difference?
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Venus6971
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:53 pm

Quoting Lt-AWACS (Reply 17):
yeah, I've been in a B-2 cockpit and know several B-2 pilots. There is rest area for one, to lay down uncomfortably on whatever pad you bring, and a stinking little pot for a lav. Not exactly what they are looking for on the ABL. According to the fellow ABM folks I know who have actually flown the ABL airframe the crew rest area and bunks are similar to the bunks on the E-3 and the galley of the E-4. The B-2 option is not happening.

But would the galley have a much needed microwave or those crappy jiffy bake ovens. It would also be nice if they had a good potable water system so can make coffee on the jet. E-3's always had crappy galleys that frigs were only good for one flight because after one touch and go the freon lines broke loose and let go of all the refrigerate. I tried to get some water systems operable at the start of noble eagle but there are no parts in the system to fix the heaters in the lavs or new pipes in the h2o sytem.
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:42 am

Somehow I think that with the DPRK's recent activities, and the fact Iran is also trying to play on the nuclear ball field, we will see more than 7 ABLs. My guess is we will see at least 2 squadrons (16-20 operational aircraft) of ABL-1Bs (B-747-800F, the B-747-400F will be designated the ABL-1A). North Korea will get it right some day, even after their recent ICBM (Tapodong II) and nuke test (max confirmed yield .8KT) failures.
 
AirSpare
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Tue Oct 17, 2006 2:00 am

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 18):
Also, we have fighter based missiles that can reach a low orbit satellite anyway, so what is the difference?

Exactly, low earth orbits. So you can hit a few recon birds that are in highly elliptical orbits.

But then, the debris cone from an ASAT missle launch will be a severe threat to friendly space assets.

ASAT is pretty cool, but it's not an elegant or practical system for an all out attack on space based assets.
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PhilSquares
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:12 am

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 9):
That's not true. There's a substantial number that will be leaving commercial service after 2010-2015. The USAF doesn't need these aircraft today.

1) You're correct there are a substantial number of airframes leaving. However, if you look closely, you will see they're all ready sold. SQ is in a real bind because of that and the delay on the 380. They have committed to sell the airframes based on the original 380 delivery schedule. So the USAF would have a hard time coming up with airframes at a "reasonable" price.

2) It will be a cold day before you see the USAF buying used airframes for the ABL program.
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AerospaceFan
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:15 am

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 18):
Also, we have fighter based missiles that can reach a low orbit satellite anyway, so what is the difference?

I think that the A-Sat program was terminated quite a while ago, if I'm not mistaken.
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AirSpare
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:13 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 23):
I think that the A-Sat program was terminated quite a while ago, if I'm not mistaken.

That was my impression. The international community was in an uproar over the debris issue causing a hazard to space navigation. A similar test could not be done today for this reason.

It was an interesting technology. The missile placed four approximately 15 inch long bolts in the path of the target satellite (sorry I can't remember the type, an older malfunctioning NASA experiment, and I'm to lazy to look it up). When the satellite hit them at 22,500 mph, well, it was dusted. It was a direct hit, the test really was a smashing success, pun intended. The radar plots of the debris cone after impact were a thing of beauty.

The satellite wasn't chased down buy a missile, ASAT placed a couple pieces of steel in it's path. poof, gone.

I'm still thinking, B is investing it's own funds in the program, they obviously feel a "748-ABL" prouction run will happen.

Any guesses on the OLs? My guess is 3 frames per OL.

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LimaNiner
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Tue Oct 17, 2006 12:57 pm

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 18):
we have fighter based missiles that can reach a low orbit satellite anyway, so what is the difference?

Probably don't want to advertise that...

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 20):
North Korea will get it right some day

I've always wondered: what would it take to "accidentally" set off one of their nukes in their own "factory"?

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 24):
The international community was in an uproar over the debris issue causing a hazard to space navigation.

So ABL seems pretty compelling: instead of blasting the thing into 1E6 pieces, just melt it into one big ball. As a public service, attach a thruster that will bring the thing into re-entry, and sign up Pizza Hut for another MIR-reentry-style PR blitz (free pizza all day long if MIR hits the Pizza Hut target in the Pacific)...
 
MCIGuy
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RE: Airborne Laser News: Possible Model Change!

Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:26 pm

I probably should have prefaced what I said with "some" satellites. The advertised range on ABL would make it able to only target LEO satellites. Something in a geosynchronous orbit, for instance, would be far out of range at 22,000 miles.
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