Seeing a Boeing 747 destroy a liquid-fueled ballistic missile
with a megawatt-class laser is undoubtedly one of the tech highlights of the year so far. Unfortunately, as impressive as the demonstration was, it's unlikely to be militarized in its current state. While the Air Force's chief of staff, General Norton Schwartz, called the demonstration "a magnificent technical achievement," he has no intention of introducing the fat tub of chemical goo into the theater of war. Solid state lasers are the future "coin of the realm," according to Schwartz, not Boeing's chemical laser which he claims, "does not represent something that is operationally viable." Of course, the chemical core of the laser was just a single component of the ALTB that managed to track, target, and destroy a moving projectile from an airborne platform. And while the technology might not be viable for broad deployment, that doesn't mean that it won't be fitted into a special forces AC-130 Gunship
for covert operations until solid state lasers (currently limited to about 100kW
) achieve megawatt status. Just saying.