Truck-mounted IED-destroying lasers have already been tested in Iraq, but firing lasers from an airplane is a more difficult proposition. The first successful test of a plane-mounted laser gun came on August 7, when Boeing’s 18-ton chemical laser fired a beam from a C-130H aircraft and destroyed a three-by-three-foot target on the ground. It was the first time all of the ATL’s lab-tested pieces came together to vaporize a target. Why use a beam instead of a bomb? Precision strikes, with (theoretically) no collateral damage. The military hopes to deploy the system in the next five years. boeing.com
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