While most of the U.S. was sleeping on February 11th of this year, the Air Force was using a frickin' laser to shoot down a missile. In midair. While both craft were flying. Badass.
The Airborne Laser Testbed Team mounted a "high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (PDF link)" (COIL) to the nose of a modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft, and successfully destroyed a missile in it's initial launch phase that night. The air crew then headed home for a fourthmeal of Taco Bell, complete with empanadas and cinnamon twists.
The implications of these tests are profound, yet the whole project was relegated to "back burner" by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and only one of the planes was fitted with the laser (instead of the initially planned 5). Defense Secretary Gates commented that the entire program suffered from affordability and technological issues as well as a questionable operational role. His shift, instead, is towards solid-state technology that can be more easily produced, and would be more mobile.
My question is then, when can I outfit a shark with a frickin' laser beam on its head? Huh? I'm not asking a lot. (image courtesy of http://mcgibs.iseenothing.com)