Report from Airborne Laser Scoping Hearing

17 October, 2002

From: Sheila Baker

The Airborne Laser scoping hearing which was clearly announced to the press as a Wednesday meeting was held tonight (Thursday). According to one news source, two
people showed last night to comment only to learn that MDA (Missile Defense Agency) announced the wrong day.

MDA and the Air Force have inflicted a grave wrong on local (Lompoc), surrounding communities, and the world by not giving advanced notice of the correct day and time of the meeting.

According to the above source, we can expect 25 of these tests. Please see:

and write comments to:
Mr. George H. Gauger
3207 Sydney Brooks
Brooks AFB, Texas
Fax 210-536-3890

18 October, 2002
Public mum on missile plan
By: Nora K. Wallace
News-Press Writer

A public hearing on the  environmental impacts of tests for a missile defense program at Vandenberg Air Force Base barely caused a stir in Lompoc on Thursday night.

Air Force officers and program officials with the Airborne Laser System packed into the Lompoc City Council chambers, outnumbering members of the public 13 to four at a hearing about the potential environmental impacts of the system. No one spoke during public comment.

The test program -- to start in 2004 involves launching a ballistic missile from Vandenberg. A modified Boeing 747-400, lasers mounted in its nosecone, would fly about 35,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean and blast the missile out of the sky.

The laser is part of the military's layered approach to missile defense, including an intercept missile, part of which is tested at Vandenberg.

An environmental report was initially completed in 1997, but the military added some tests and a supplement was required. A final draft is expected next spring, said Ken Englade, a spokesman for the program.

The Air Force envisions a fleet of seven modified planes, which could be sent quickly to trouble spots around the globe.

There could be as many as 25 missile test flights from Vandenberg.

The system, which has cost $1.8 billion so far, is designed so a small carbon dioxide laser will spot a target; a solid-state laser will track the target and a beacon laser will
measure atmospheric distortion. The laser that will eventually destroy the target is a chemical oxygen-iodine laser.

During the tests, "the lasers are configured so the reflected energy is contained within the (test) range," said Capt. Joe Wimmer, a program spokesman.

If the laser misses the Vandenberg missile, the military said its energy would burst through restricted airspace above 45,000 feet, and continue upward. Sensors and other means would be used to make sure no aircraft or satellites were in the potential path of the beam, the military said.

The supplemental environmental document contains few or no impacts to land use, transportation, hazardous materials and the natural environment. Impacts to air quality would be less than 1 percent of the county's total annual emission allotment, Capt. Wimmer said.


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