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Space and Missile Defense Challenges: The Potential of Directed Energy

December 6, 2000

Ready or not, warfare is about to expand into yet another realm, bringing changes as inevitable as those following the invention of gunpowder and the unlocking of the atom. On 6 June 2000, scientists and technicians from the U.S. Army and Israel made history when they used a chemically fueled, highpowered laser to zap an incoming Russian-made Katyusha rocket with a live warhead on its nose. The test proved it is practicable to use a beam of intense, highly focused light as an effective, dependable, inexpensive way of protecting our troops and allies from enemy rocket attacks. As Lieutenant General John Costello, Commanding General, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, said shortly after this intercept, “We’ve just turned science fiction into reality.”