The Boeing 747 Airborne Laser project has been mothballed despite successfully destroying a ballistic missile and other targets. But don't dispair, pew-pew destruction fans: the US Missile defence Command now wants to use small high altitude drones armed with lasers.
The Airborne Laser projects started in the 1990s. Installed in a Boeing 747-400F, the multi-megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser was designed to destroy the propulsion of enemy nuclear ICBMs, taking down the missile and its nuclear warheads.
The Pentagon spent $US5 billion on this defence laser, but it has finally been killed because of mounting costs, the current economical crisis and doubts about its actual practical value in real life scenarios.
But everything is not lost: the Pentagon will use the experience to develop other laser defence systems, using high altitude drones equipped with lasers. According to MDA Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, they will be simpler and more effective.
I don't know how they are going to fit the equipment needed to fire a laser powerful enough inside a drone. Therefore, I must assume we have finally reverse engineered the alien technology from the Roswell crash. [Aviation Week]