High-energy Laser Weapons Take to the Skies
Operational deployment of airborne directed-energy weapons is finally drawing near after many years of research. Flight testing for solid-state high-energy laser systems designed to mount on aircraft, including fighter jets and combat helicopters, will ramp up into the early 2020s.
Attempts to integrate laser weapon systems on aircraft date back to the 1970s, when the U.S. Air Force Weapons Laboratory converted a KC-135A into the Airborne Laser Laboratory (ALL). Flight tests of the modified aircraft began in January 1975 and continued for eight years. The ALL was a success, shooting down several missiles and drones, but was retired in 1984.
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Reference: Engineering 360