Boeing Begins Firing High-Energy Laser Aboard Advanced Tactical Laser Aircrafthttp://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=65784
After conducting a series of additional laser tests on the ground and in the air, the program will fire the chemical laser in-flight at mission-representative ground targets. The test team will fire the laser through a rotating turret that extends through the aircraft’s belly.
"Later this year, we will fire the laser in-flight at ground targets, demonstrating the military utility of this transformational directed energy weapon" Fancher said.
ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Department of Defense, will destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.
This reminds me of a Wash. Post column I read a while back that was noting that the most sea-changing new developments or technologies tend to get buried in otherwise forgettable press releases that nobody pays attention to (including the Internet, World Wide Web, e-mail, Wi-Fi, etc. etc.).
Of course, the scary thing about inventing stuff like this is that usually the wrong people want the same technology. While it would be nice to make collateral damage a thing of the pass, I don't know how you defend against this thing (mirrors?) if it becomes more common and becomes a technology other countries possess.
P.S. I searched for Boeing, Lasers, and "holy crap!" with the forum search function, so if there's already a thread on this, tough.