It was a year ago that the United States military first attempted, and ultimately succeeded, in shooting down a ballistic missile with a laser. And now it looks like they are ready to test it again, and they could be doing it as soon as tonight, if sources are accurate. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Airborne Laser Test Bed, which is a heavily modified jumbo jet that has a chemical laser equipped to its frame, will take off from the California coast, and try to shoot down the missile.
While the military has already proven that they can shoot down a ballistic missile with a laser, the program itself hasn’t seen the best support from the government. In the past, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates actually downgraded the program to a research and development stage, which meant that acquiring another jumbo jet for further testing was out of the question. However, if this experiment is a success, it is likely that the project will receive congressional interest, which could lead to further funding.
The military is trying to show that lasers can play an integral part to the strategy of its forces, especially if they can be used in such a manner as the Airborne Laser Test Bed. With this test, which will hopefully succeed versus the failures that the testers faced back in September due to several issues. The test is reportedly going to occur some time tonight, but no exact time frame was issued.
[via The Wall Street Journal]