U.S. Air Force Maj. Paul ‘Loco’ Lopez, F-22 Demo Team commander/pilot, performs a high speed pass during the Thunder over the Bay air show, March 30, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm) ((U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm))
Anti-missile lasers could soon be attached to U.S. fighter jets after a successful ground test.
The military planes could be getting the 'Star Wars' style equipment as soon as 2020.
U.S. Air Force officials have revealed that they conducted a successful test using a ground-based laser as it was able to shoot down "several missiles".
The exact number of missiles the lasers can shoot down cannot be revealed for security reasons.
The test was run by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) as part of the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD), which is a program aiming to create tech for protecting aircraft from incoming missiles.
Although, the ground missile was quite large, the military researchers think they are now much closer to creating one that is small enough to attach to an aircraft.
An AFRL statement said: “The final SHiELD system, however, will be much smaller and lighter, as well as ruggedized for an airborne environment."
Flight tests for the laser-equipped fighter jets are planned for 2020.
Weapons maker Lockheed Martin was asked to built the planes back in 2017.
However, shrinking a laser system is a huge technical challenge and a laser system that can take down a missile needs to be extremely powerful.
The U.S. has already trialed a laser system on a plane before in the form of the YAL-1 Airborne Laser plane.
This weaponized aircraft was made up of a megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) mounted inside a modified Boeing 747-400F plane.
It was used to practice firing lasers and destroying missiles from the air but was retired in 2014.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.