In this silent video of Boeing's Airborne Laser Testbed, the ball turret in the airplane's nose is seen rotating without firing. In a shoot-down scenario, an advanced telescope inside the turret would fire three lasers in rapid succession at a target missile shortly after launch. In February 2010, off the U.S. West coast, the Airborne Laser Testbed destroyed a missile for the first time. Because of its huge cost and other factors, it has been downgraded to a research program. Still, the airborne laser has shown that directed energy weapons are pushing warfare to the speed of light.
Video: Missile Defense Agency (1:23)