It's gonna fly, and hopefully it's gonna fry too.
Boeing has installed a high-powered laser weapon aboard a C-130H airplane and will spend the next few months testing the 12,000-pound system, according to a report posted on the Network World Web site.
The chemical oxygen-iodine laser (COIL) laser, which uses the infrared part of the light spectrum and would not be visible to human eyes, has been mounted in a rotating turret in the C-130's belly and will be fired against dummy targets on the ground.
It draws its huge power from a violent chemical reaction between iodine, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide and potassium, which explodes at nearly supersonic speeds and generates about a megawatt — one million watts — of energy.
"The Advanced Tactical Laser can produce a four-inch-diameter beam of energy that can slice through metal from a distance of 9 miles," states a report on GlobalSecurity.org.
The resulting laser beam would be used by the military to damage and weaken enemy ground installations rapidly and without collateral damage.
The program is a sibling of Boeing's Airborne Laser program, already in testing, in which a similarly high-powered laser is mounted in a vertically mounted turret on the nose of a 747. That weapon is designed to shoot down tactical ballistic missiles already in flight.