Raytheon Company has delivered the first Track Illuminator Laser (TILL) to Lockheed Martin for use in the U.S. Air Force’s Airborne Laser (ABL) missile defense program.
The ABL TILL is the first diode-pumped Yb:YAG laser that has qualified for flight operation aboard a military aircraft. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems’ TILL will be integrated with the beam transfer optics for an end-to-end test of the ABL’s Beam Control/Fire Control system at the Lockheed Martin ABL test facility in Sunnyvale, CA.
TILL is an integral part of the Beam Control/Fire Control system and will project rapid, powerful pulses of light to a small section of a boosting missile threat. The light will then be reflected back to an extremely sensitive camera. The reflected light data is used to obtain information about the threat’s speed and elevation.
This month, Raytheon began technology development work on a variant of the TILL system to extend performance and accuracy. The company also began production of spare components. In March 2001, Raytheon’s TILL was the first of four critical ABL solid-state lasers to conduct a successful ‘first light’ test at its High Energy Laser Center in El Segundo, Calif.