November 10, 2004: Airborne Laser Program Testing

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  • Air Force Flight Test Center

The Airborne Laser program successfully fired all six modules of its megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser during a ground test at its Systems Integration Laboratory on South Base. The test, dubbed “First Light,” lasted less than one second, but verified the physics design of the new laser system and its subsystems. The COIL’s beam, invisible to the human eye, ignited dust particles in the firing path.

The laser is fed with gaseous chlorine, molecular iodine, and an aqueous mixture of hydrogen peroxide and potassium hydroxide. The aqueous peroxide solution undergoes chemical reaction with chlorine, producing heat, potassium chloride, and oxygen in excited state, singlet delta oxygen. Spontaneous transition of excited oxygen to the triplet sigma ground state is forbidden giving the excited oxygen a spontaneous lifetime of about 45 minutes. This allows the singlet oxygen to transfer its energy to the iodine molecules injected to the gas stream; they are nearly resonant with the singlet oxygen, so the energy transfer during the collision of the particles is rapid. The excited iodine then undergoes stimulated emission and lases at 1.315 μm in the optical resonator region of the laser.

These “cockpits on the ground” allow for avionics testing, troubleshooting, software design and training before installation for smooth implementation in your aircraft. The scaled production to the requirements, providing a custom testing solution for your avionics.

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