The Pentagon has cancelled a more than 15 year long, five billion dollar program being tested off of Ventura County’s coastline to develop technology which uses airborne lasers to shoot down missiles.
The Defense Department pulled the plug on the effort after Congress didn’t allot enough money for the research, and testing to continue.
The project focused on a converted Boeing 747 with an advanced laser system on board, and technology which allowed the gun to track, and shoot down incoming missiles. While military officials didn’t release many details about the project, they say the plane was successful in shooting down a missile in a first test off of Pt. Mugu, but then a second test ended in failure. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a congressional committee in 2010 that it would take a laser 20 to 30 times more powerful than the one being tested to have the range to be effective in a real life situation.
The program had a number of delays, and cost overruns, and never got past the testing stage. The special 747 used for the tests was sent to a special military aircraft storage facility in Arizona.