First Light Saber

Missile Defense Agency and Air Force officials formally helped roll out the Airborne Laser aircraft at Boeing’s Wichita, Kan., facility last week in preparation for low power flight tests. (The ABL team test fired low-power surrogate lasers from within the aircraft at ground level earlier this year.) In remarks in Wichita, Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering III reiterated his belief that the ABL’s revolutionary technology has “the potential to change the very nature of warfare.” He said some critics have mocked the program as “Star Wars,” but Obering welcomes that moniker because “today we are taking a major step to give the American people their first ‘Light Saber.’” He expects the program to be ready to fire at a missile in 2008, with operational readiness expected toward the end of the decade.