Barack Obama's transition team is studying the Pentagon's first test of a plane firing a laser weapon, and may nix the $4.3 billion project—but the US military is still nearing its dream of laser warfare, New Scientist Tech reports. The Airborne Laser, once touted as defensive, could easily be modified to counter "aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and cruise missiles," one expert said.
With a range of hundreds of kilometers, it could also gun down satellites. Other military lasers are under construction, and US soldiers are testing one in Iraq and Afghanistan to blow up insurgents' improvised explosive devices. "Applying heat and burning humans or material—by flame-throwers at close range—is an accepted method of warfare under international law," one expert said.