While ground-based lasers might provide some semblance of security, what any science fiction fan really wants is aircraft-mounted lasers to take out evildoers whilst patrolling the skies. Fortunately for the American military, that day may come sooner than one might think. Late last week, Boeing announced the "first light" of its "high-energy chemical laser in ground tests, achieving two key milestones in the laser gunship development effort." In other words, the new "Advanced Tactical Laser" can pretty much take out anything on the ground (and we assume eventually in the sky as well). The best part? The laser is scalable, "meaning the weapon operator will be able to select the degree and nature of the damage done to a target by choosing a specific aimpoint and laser shot duration. For example, targeting the fuel tank of a vehicle could result in total destruction of the vehicle, while targeting a tire might result in the vehicle stopping without injury to the driver." Now that's freakin' sweet.

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Boeing's Advanced Tactical Laser to take out ground targets