Last we heard from Northrop Grumman it was making some steady progress towards a weapons-grade laser system, and it now looks like that's even closer to becoming a reality, with the company announcing that the system has passed its second major milestone with flying colors. According to the company, the key "laser chain" component was demonstrated on December 20th, 2007, and actually exceeded all target requirements, including reaching a power of 15.3kW, a good deal above the 12.7kW they were aiming for. That component is just one part of the so-called Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser Phase 3 Program, which is designed to combine eight laser chains for a peak power level of 100kW, otherwise known as the level deemed necessary for weapons-grade laser systems. While there's still no indication as to when that might happen, Northrop Grumman has gone as far to say that, with this latest test, "the hardest part is over," so it looks like it might not be as far off as you might think.

[Via The Register]