A U.S. Defense Science Board report on directed-energy weapons in late 2007 states: “Directed energy suffers from a history of overly optimistic expectations.” This may be the understatement of the century. The report cites canceled or delayed programs, and notes that the biggest U.S. directed-energy (DE) program—the Airborne Laser (ABL), which alone consumes more than half the Pentagon’s DE budget—was little or no closer to its crucial operational test than when the board last reported ...


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