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In a week where the Avengers Endgame obliterated box office records consigning Star Wars mania to distant memory, the former stuff of science fiction took a giant step forward as the US Air Force Just Shot Down Multiple Missiles With A Laser Destined For Aircraft.

Russia be warned, China too, the skies just got a little safer for NATO.

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The U.S. Air Force has revealed that a ground-based surrogate for a laser weapon system that could protect American fighter jets and other aircraft from incoming threats in the future has successfully shot down multiple air-launched missiles in a test. The service's publicly stated goal is to have a podded prototype system ready for actual flight tests by 2021 and an actual operational capability by the end of the decade.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) conducted the test on Apr. 23, 2019, at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, together with defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which is developing the laser. Lockheed Martin first received the contract to build the directed energy weapon in 2017 as part of AFRL's Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) program. The laser component, or Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE), is just one part of the SHiELD effort. Work on a turreted mount and a self-contained pod to attach the complete system to a fighter jet-sized aircraft are separate as part of the SHiELD Turret Research in Aero Effects (STRAFE) and Laser Pod Research & Development (LPRD) projects, respectively.

To read more on The Drive:

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