A successful ground test has moved the U.S. military one big step closer to putting anti-missile lasers on its aircraft.
A ground-based laser shot down "several" missiles in flight during an April 23 test at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Air Force officials said. Run by the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, the test was part of the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator, or SHiELD, a program intended to protect aircraft from incoming missiles.
AFRL officials said security reasons prevented them from saying how many missiles were downed in the test.
The laser that the Air Force lab used for the test was ground-based, and on the heavy side.
"The final SHiELD system, however, will be much smaller and lighter, as well as ruggedized for an airborne environment," an AFRL statement said. Flight tests are planned for fiscal 2020.