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Boeing's Airborne Laser begins flight tests, future uncertain

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Boeing was pretty bullish about its aircraft-mounted laser system only a few short months ago, but it looks the program's future is now considerably more uncertain, even as the sole aircraft to be equipped with the rig begins its first flight tests. Apparently, everything with the tests themselves has been going according to plan, with both the high-energy laser itself and the "beam control / fire control apparatus" along for the ride, and Boeing is even reportedly still on track for a missile-intercept demonstration later this year. The recent funding shakeup at the Pentagon, however, has thrown Boeing and its partners in the project for a bit of a loop, with the department now apparently intending to keep only one of the planes in service (instead of the proposed seven) as it transitions the rest of the program towards a purely R&D effort.

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