Boeing said the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is the first payload customer for its Phantom Eye high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system. On June 5, the Department of Defense (DOD) agency announced a $6.8 million contract modification with Boeing to incorporate an unspecified payload aboard future test flights of the aircraft.
It was always an ambitious plan: Develop the world’s most powerful airborne laser, integrate it on a large airliner and use it to shoot down ballistic missiles at the most opportune time–during the boost phase. Go operational in 2007. But after spending almost $5 billion on the airborne laser (ABL) in 15 years, the MDA redesignated it as the airborne laser test bed (ALTB).
Are the nations of Europe serious about comprehensive ballistic missile defense (BMD)? Or are they happy to let America provide the only effective shield over their cities and populations? Despite a ringing declaration of intent at the NATO summit meeting in Lisbon last November, these questions remain unanswered.