Danger Room points out that the Airborne Laser, that 747-based anti-missile flying laser cannon, has had over 70% of its 2008 budget slashed.
Though I’ve hoped they could get this thing working, I’ve long wondered about just how valuable it would really prove to be in real-world scenarios. Unless we were pretty sure someone was about to launch, we wouldn’t have planes in position to shoot down anything anyway.
Maybe this sort of thing would be more valuable loitering around a battlefield, prepared to shoot down short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles like the SCUDs in the 1991 Gulf War.
It seems that a large part of the delay, budget problems, and general lack of success is due to the heavy, complex, and hazardous chemical laser. Murdoc’s guess would be that solid-state lasers will soon start catching up, and suddenly a lot of the problems associated with chemical systems go away.
Reminds me of an enlightening discussion about the ABL I had in the comments section of Wizbang a while back. I was told the ABL was “closer than I thought”. Doesn’t seem to have worked out that way.