Yes, it sounds completely crazy: A 747 jumbo-jet, embedded with a powerful laser, that can shoot missiles right out of the sky. But for sixteen long years, the U.S. military tried to turn that idea called the Airborne Laser Test Bed into a reality. Now, after myriad ups and downs, the Airborne Laser (ABL) has finally been put out of its misery. Last week, the Missile Defense Agency announced that the ABL completed its final test flight. The jet will now be dispatched to a locale from which planes dont typically return: The Air Forces Maintenance and Regeneration Group, also known as The Boneyard. There, the ABL will join more than 4,200 other outdated or useless vessels. The sorry vessels in this plane purgatory are often picked to pieces, their various hardwares used for spare parts. Others are kept intact, waiting to be used in a museum exhibit or on a movie set. We can no longer continue to do everything and explore every potential technology, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, now the Pentagons top arms-control official, said at the time. Missile defense cannot be like some second marriages the triumph of hope over experience. That same year, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed. He cancelled the development of a second Airborne Laser, noting that he didnt know anybody at the Department of Defense who thinks that this program should, or would, ever be operationally deployed. But in 2010, the ABL seemed poised for a comeback: In February, the jet successfully zapped a threat representative missile out of the sky from 50 miles away, garnering the program a $40 million boost in funding for continued testing. Much to the disappointment of Americans antsy for their ray-gun, two consecutive botched tests later in 2010 seem to have sealed the ABLs fate. The projects funding ran out in 2010, and itll now be relegated to longterm storage. Sixteen years and billions of dollars all so that a tricked-out 747 could collect dust? Maybe not quite. The ABLs defenders do credit it with helping to work out kinks in missile defense logistics, with Pentagon research and engineering chief Zach Lemnios anticipating that when America is ready to deploy a light-saber, itll be on much, much smaller platforms than a 747. RIP, Raygun: Pentagon's Laser Plane Laid to Rest | Danger Room | Wired.com Golly. Conservatives complain about wasteful goverment spending and yet, here's a STUPID IDEA that won't die, no matter HOW badly it performs for 30 YEARS! 30 YEARS of a program that has yielded WHAT EXACTLY? Oh, that's right....NOTHING! NO MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM WHATSOEVER. How much have we spent? A few TRILLION ? And what do we have to show for it? Oh, A system that can only hit roughly HALF it's pre-programmed targets. Missile defense has been the biggest government boondoggle since the $500 toilet seat. I find it endlessly delicious that a politician who didn't think the government was the answer to problems, tasked the government with this one and stuck us with the most wasteful government program in the nation's history.