DARPA announced late last week that it wants to place laser turrets on fighter jets as early as 2014. DARPA has been working on airborne lasers for a long time in conjunction with the Air Force. The test bed for the airborne laser program was a Boeing 747 with a megawatt laser in its nose.
That massive laser was intended to be used to destroy the missiles, bombs, and other projectiles in-flight. However, the Airborne Laser Testbed project was abandoned last year. DARPA is still working on programs to put lasers into fighter aircraft with two projects ongoing at this time.
One of the laser projects is called the High Energy Liquid Laser Defense System (HELLADS) and the other is the Aero-Adaptive/Aero-Optic Beam Control (ABC). HELLADS is the airborne laser project seen in the image and centers on a 150-kilowatt system. This laser is 10 times smaller and lighter than current laser systems.
The HELLADS laser system is small enough to be used on ground and in the air aboard aircraft. The project was to create a laser weighing less than 5 kg per kilowatt able to fit into a total space of three cubic meters. ABC is a laser designed as a defensive weapon. It would be a small laser current mounted on aircraft or other vehicles used to shoot down incoming missiles. This project uses a fancy beam control to keep from losing its energy as it fires. The turbulence created by the aircraft engine.