US Airborne Laser project killed, but new effort in the wingsJanuary 13, 2012
Aviation Week reports that, after 16 years of effort, the Air Force has officially killed the Airborne Laser (ABL) anti-missile project. The ABL was designed to be fitted onto a Boeing 747 and was hoped to have the capability to knock down incoming ICBMs with a high-energy laser burst. Despite some advances and at least one success at destroying a target, the massively expensive program is now dead.
However, the Air Force is not finished with its efforts to build a missile defense system around high powered lasers. The plan now is to wed the advances in unmanned aerial vehicle technology (UAV) with the next generation lasers and build a more powerful yet cheaper alternative platform.