News In Brief

US tests of laser weapon successful, officials say

A secret government plant has developed a ''Star Wars'' mirror for the Air Force that can beam high-energy lasers into the sky and zap enemy targets ''almost instantaneously,'' officials disclosed Wednesday.

The weapon has successfully ''killed'' flying target drones in a series of tests, officials disclosed under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Knoxville News-Sentinel. But the $10 million project was stopped last year because of a funding shortage, the Energy Department's Jim Alexander said.

The Air Force, according to the documents, became interested in laser weapons decades ago because they had several ''particularly attractive features.'' If a laser weapon were stationed a mile away, a supersonic jet traveling twice the speed of sound would move only one-eighth of an inch in the time it would take a laser beam to destroy the aircraft, a report said.

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