Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser



I get email alerts from the Flightwise flight tracking service when airplanes file flight plans to several airports. One of those airports is Edwards Air Force Base. In December 2004, I started receiving notices about a Boeing 747-400 with the call sign BOE1 departing from Edwards and returning to Edwards. I downloaded the flight tracks for BOE1 and found that it flew to the test range off the coast of California. It flew a racetrack pattern west of Vandenberg Air Force Base and then returned to Edwards, just the sort of thing that an airborne laser testbed would do. The tracks of its flights in early 2005 showed that it made long, straight-in approaches to Edwards that took it directly over the town of Boron. On March 29, 2005, I received another flight plan notice for BOE1. I drove out to Boron to see if I could get a look at the plane.

March 29, 2005

Boeing VC-135E Stratofreighter 57-2589 Speckled Trout, March 29, 2005 Boeing VC-135E Stratofreighter 57-2589 Speckled Trout made a couple of passes overhead as I waited for the 747.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, March 29, 2005 Boeing YAL-1A airborne laser testbed 00-0001 appeared a few miles to the north at 4:00 PM.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, March 29, 2005 The YAL-1A was accompanied by General Dynamics F-16B Block 15AS OCU Fighting Falcon 92-0457 from the 416th Flight Test Squadron.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, March 29, 2005 The YAL-1A extended its landing gear when it was about 12 miles from the runway at Edwards.

I was on the Highway 58 on-ramp when I spotted the YAL-1A and the F-16B returning to Boron ten minutes lter. I pulled over and photographed the pair as they circled overhead.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, March 29, 2005

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, March 29, 2005

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, March 29, 2005 The national insignia on the YAL-1A is a lighter shade of blue than the standard insignia.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, March 29, 2005

May 6, 2005

I made a second trip to Boron to photograph the airborne laser testbed on May 6, 2005. The YAL-1A returned from its test flight at 4:50 PM.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, May 6, 2005 The laser had not yet been installed in the airborne laser testbed when these pictures were taken.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, May 6, 2005

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, May 6, 2005

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, May 6, 2005

BOE1 flight tracks Flight tracks for Boeing Company Flight BOE1 between December 17, 2004 and June 3, 2005 downloaded from Flightwise.

BOE1 flight tracks The YAL-1A departed from Edwards Air Force Base on August 3, 2005 and flew to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

The YAL-1A was flown from Edwards Air Force Base to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on February 14, 2012 and placed into storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.

April 15, 2012

The YAL-1A Airborne Laser Testbed was placed on public display for the first time at Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona 2012 at Davis-Monthan AFB on April 14 and 15.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The YAL-1A Airborne Laser Testbed carries a megawatt class Chemical, Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) for destroying Tactical Ballistic Missiles in the boost phase of their flight. The laser is emitted from the large steerable turet on the nose of the YAL-1A.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Sell Art Online Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser Testbed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on April 15, 2012: You can buy this photo as prints as large as 16" x 24".

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Sell Art Online Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser Testbed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on April 15, 2012: You can buy this photo as prints as large as 14" x 40".

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The laser turret and engines of the YAL-1A Airborne Laser Testbed have been covered in protective material for long term storage.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Sell Art Online Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser Testbed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on April 15, 2012: You can buy this photo as prints as large as 16" x 24".

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The COIL emits its laser beam through this large turret on the nose of the Airborne Laser Testbed.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The pod below the laser turret houses a weather radar and one of the six Infra-red Search and Track (IRST) units. The IRSTs detect the heat of the plume from an ascending missile.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The IRST pod under the laser turret.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Mission marks were applied below the cockpit windows.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Mission marks commemorate nine laser tests, including the destruction of two missiles.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The Active Ranging System (ARS) is mounted on the top of the fuselage. It houses a carbon-dioxide laser for tracking missiles. The YAL-1A sports badges for the Missile Defense Agency, the Air Materiel Command, and the Air Combat Command.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Right side of the Active Ranging System.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Badges for the Missile Defense Agency, the Air Materiel Command, and the Air Combat Command on the right side of the fuselage.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Two more IRSTs are mounted on either side of the fuselage, directly below the ARS.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Two hazardous chemical vents are mounted on the right side of the upper fuselage, aft of the wing.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Exhaust ports for the COIL vent through the bottom of the fuselage aft of the wing.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 A hazardous chemical vent is mounted under the fuselage forward of the exhaust ports of the COIL.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The COIL laser vents exhaust gases through thirty-six vents on the underside of the fuselage.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Two hot exhaust vents present a hazard to ground crew operating under the aft fuselage.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Ground crew are instructed to wear proper personal protective equipment in the vicinity of the hot exhaust vents.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 Two more hazardous chemical vents are mohnted on either side of the COIL exhaust vents.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The national insignia on the YAL-1A incorporates a lighter shade of blue than the standard insignia. It resembles the non-standrad national insignia of the VC-25s that serve as Air Force One.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012 The YAL-1A was assigned to the 417th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base.

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012

Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, April 15, 2012











Send a message to Brian.