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What’s Cooking With ABL?: The director of the Airborne Laser program, USAF Col. John Daniels, said the current plan still calls for ABL to attend its “graduating exercise” in 2008, when it is expected to shoot down a ballistic missile in flight. Speaking Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference, Daniels said 80 percent of the 2005 testing is done, with full-power, full-duration laser testing on tap for October. Once ABL “graduates” in 2008, the program will gain a second aircraft—one that will bridge the gap between the prototype and a production version. Daniels admitted the program has had its challenges, but he said, “We’re way past the view graph stage.” There is no plan by the Missile Defense Agency, which added management of ABL development to its stable in 2001, to rush this program. Read “Not Downbeat, Just Realistic.”