VIDEO: Airborne Laser Shoots Down Missile In First Successful Test

04/14/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced that its high-powered airborne laser successfully shot down a ballistic missile during a recent test.

The Airborne Laser Testbed's in-air destruction of the missile took place on Thursday evening in central California. It was the first time the 'futuristic directed energy weapon' succeeded in shooting down a missile during a test.

"The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile" the Missile Defense Agency said, according to Reuters, adding, "This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform."

The video below demonstrates the airborne laser's capabilities.

Its description on YouTube reads:

A short-range threat-representative ballistic missile was launched from an at-sea mobile launch platform. Within seconds, the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) used onboard sensors to detect the boosting missile and used a low-energy laser to track the target. The ALTB then fired a second low-energy laser to measure and compensate for atmospheric disturbance. Finally, the ALTB fired its megawatt-class High Energy Laser, heating the boosting ballistic missile to critical structural failure. The entire engagement occurred within two minutes of the target missile launch, while its rocket motors were still thrusting.