On the political turbulence affecting the Airborne Laser:
A delay in a key test and a potential multi-billion dollar price tag to field a working system has members of Congress on the verge of grounding the anti-missile Airborne Laser.
With headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base and most of the hands-on development and testing being done in California and Kansas, the laser program is the latest in a long line of efforts to develop shoot-to-kill laser weapons.
The program’s backers imagine a 747 flying high above the field of battle, ready at a moment’s notice to zap off a laser and destroy an enemy’s Scud missiles soon after they leave the ground.
According to one early Pentagon plan, a fleet of seven of the planes was to be under construction as early as next year.
But getting the laser off of its ground-based test stand and into an airplane that could eventually take it into battle has proven so difficult that members of Congress appear ready to say “enough.”