Boeing Fires Death-Ray From C-130 Gunship

FILED UNDER: Technology

Boeing announced today that one of its aerial laser cannon plane prototypes has fired its first blasts in ground testing.

The laser being tested is called an Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL). It is fitted to a normal C-130 military transport and weighs in at 20 tons (6 tons for the laser, 14 tons for the guidance controls). Boeing completed installation of the laser on December 4th at Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M and dubbed it the laser gunship.

The ATL laser is expected to be used to take out targets such as cellphone towers or vehicles and do so silently from a distance of 18-20km. It is designed to deliver a speed of light engagement capability that will increase accuracy and reduce collateral damage.

“First firing of the high-energy laser aboard the ATL aircraft shows that the program continues to make good progress,” said Scott Fancher of Boeing Missile Defense Systems.

There is another laser project underway at Boeing called the Airborne Laser (ABL). Designed to disintegrate nuclear missiles from hundreds of kilometres away, it is the ATLs bigger brother – so large it will have to be mounted to a jumbo-jet.

To generate the high-intensity beams, both types of laser use toxic chemical fuels. Laser beams of this strength cannot currently be produced with electric equipment.

Boeing is expected to flight test the ATL system within the coming months.

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