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Boeing 747 destroys ballistic missile with laser (update: photos!)

Thomas Ricker, @trixxy
February 12, 2010
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No, this isn't a call to arms (yet), the US is simply evaluating its airborne laser weapon again. Now listen in because this latest test was a doozy. Last night at 8:44pm Cali time, the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully "destroyed" a liquid-fueled ballistic missile from an airborne platform, according to the Missile Defense Agency. A first for the directed energy weapon that we've been following since 2006. The dirty work was achieve by a modified Boeing 747-400F airframe fitted with a Northrop Grumman higher-energy laser and Lockheed Martin beam and fire control system. After an at-sea launch, the ALTB used a low-energy laser to track the target. A second, low-energy laser was used to measure and compensate for atmospheric disturbances before the megawatt-class laser was fired, "heating the boosting ballistic missile to critical structural failure." The entire episode was over just two minutes after missile launch. Good work generals, but let's see you fit that laser to a shark if you really want to impress us.

Update: Infrared images of the ALTB destroying the short-range ballistic missile after the break.







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