EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE – A stand-up ceremony last week recognized the 417th Flight Test Squadron, which will be responsible for testing a highly modified 747 fitted with a laser for destroying enemy missiles. The squadron ceremony formalizes the priority of the Airborne Laser program for the Air Force Flight Test Center’s 412th Test Wing, squadron commander Lt. Col. Barry St. Germain said. “We’re coming up on a milestone with weapons systems integration on the airplane and missile shoot-down,” said program manager Robert Suszek. “So as we come up on that, (the test center) is recognizing that we’re going to need our own engineering cadre, our own test-planning cadre, (and) our own operations cadre. With that comes the squadron.” The squadron is composed of about 750 people, including the contractor work force and the government work force. The laser program was formerly a part of the 452nd Flight Test Squadron’s Airborne Laser Test Force. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 Designated YAL-1A, the modified Boeing 747-400 airframe is equipped with sensors, lasers and sophisticated optics to find, track and destroy ballistic missiles in their boost, or ascent, phase. Currently the YAL-1A is in Wichita, Kan., receiving modifications to the sub-structure of the aircraft to accommodate the integration of the weapons system, which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2006, Suszek said. The ABL is a component of Missile Defense Agency’s boost-phase segment designed to destroy enemy missiles soon after they are launched. The 417th Flight Test Squadron was originally activated at Edwards as the 6517th Test Squadron in March 1989. It was dedicated to the C-17 Globemaster III test program. In 1992, the squadron was redesignated the 417th Test Squadron in 1994 it became the 417th Flight Test Squadron. In October 1995, the squadron was inactivated and the C-17 program was consolidated with the 418th Flight Test Squadron. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!