As fans of Real Genius, we're as intrigued as you are by the concept of a flying laser the size (and shape) of a Boeing 747-400F, and have been tracking Boeing's test-flights of its Airborne Laser platform quite closely. The jet is designed to intercept and destroy missiles mid-flight, and a recent test showed that it can manage that first bit -- but it still hasn't achieved the second. In a test on August 10, it tracked and fired upon an in-flight target that was packing sensors; the sensors confirmed the hit and so the test was successful, but for some reason Boeing opted to not crank it up to the gigawatts and knock the thing down. That test is apparently planned for a "lethal demonstration against a boosting threat-representative ballistic missile target" later this year, so until then this thing is little more effective than a multi-billion dollar Care Bear. Boeing, we dig that targets of this sort are probably not cheap, but get on with the program already, yeah?
[Via The Huntsville Times]