At last, the Missile Defence Agency Airborne Laser - flying on a Boeing 747-400F - has killed an actual ballistic missile in mid-air, within two minutes of its launch. This is not Star Wars pew-pew. It looks like the Enterprise's phasers.
It happened February 11, 8.44am Pacific Standard Time, at the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Centre - Weapons Division Sea Range off the central California coast. The missile - representing a SCUD - launched from a platform at sea. Second later, the Airborne Laser Test Bed sensors detected the launch, focusing its low-energy tracking laser on it. A second laser was fired to measure the atmospheric disturbance, gathering data to achieve a perfect firing solution.
Seconds later, the target was destroyed when the ALTC unleashed its megawatt-class High Energy Laser, causing a massive structural failure in the missiles as it was rising in the sky. The whole thing took only two minutes, demonstrating that this weapon will be extremely useful in destroying a wave of missiles, one after the other. Like Missile Command, but from the air. [Boeing and Lockheed Martin]