December 4, 2007 (by Jonathan Somerville) - On December 4, 2007 fitted the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, onto a special C-130H test bed from Eglin AFB, Florida. The ATL is intended to be used by Special Operation Squadrons.
The Advanced Tactical Laser C-130H 65-0979 flies over Albuquerque, New Mexico in January 2008. [Boeing photo by Ed Turner]
The high-powered laser which has been in the works since the project began in 2001 has faced many hurtles and is finally been fitted to an aircraft. Exact capability of this high-energy chemical laser is not known but has been stated to be effective beyond visual site. The unit itself is a 12,000 pound module that can extend down through the belly of the aircraft while in flight. Its purpose is to damage or disable targets while being able to support urban combat operations with minimal collateral damage.
A lower powered laser was tested on the aircraft earlier in 2007 with over 50 firings of the laser. It was able to track distant targets, both moving and static. The system was also able to produce a high-resolution display of the targets it tracked. The plan is to actually fire the high power laser for the first time sometime in 2008.