The Airborne Surveillance Test Bed (AST) is a BMD asset being used to validate Long Wavelength Infrared (LWIR) sensor functional performance and to collect infrared data on a wide variety of ballistic missile targets. The system's large field-of-view LWIR sensor is used to accurately measure target infrared signature and position. The AST is frequently used as a surrogate for sensor systems under development. By collecting data and demonstrating sensor performance, the system addresses critical NMD and TMD development issues.
The AST consists of a large three-color, LWIR sensor mounted in an 86-foot-long cupola atop a modified Boeing 767 aircraft. In addition to the module housing the AST sensor, the cupola on top has a second module capable of accommodating another sensor. The main cabin houses the signal and data processing equipment, operator consoles, recording equipment, global positioning system processors, and other ancillary equipment. The AST completed system integration and testing at Boeing in January 1990.
Since then, it has completed many data collection and performance demonstration missions. These missions have been conducted at a variety of test ranges, including Kwajalein Missile Range (KMR), Pacific Missile Range Facility, Eastern Test Range, White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), and Wallops Island. Missions have been conducted at other CONUS locations as well. The AST was based at the Military Flight Center, Boeing Field, Seattle, WA.
Now in storage at Victorville.