Photos: The Airborne Laser goes to Washington

Well, to Maryland, actually, but the aircraft's visit to Andrews Air Force base is closely tied to budget battles on Capitol Hill.

Airborne Laser
Click for more on the Airborne Laser Air Force photo by Bobby Jones

The bulbous nose on this modified 747 is an early sign of progress in a weapons system that one day may fulfill the goals of the Pentagon's Airborne Laser program. The aircraft recently made its first cross-country flight, landing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland--just as Congress is debating funding for the program as part of the overall defense budget for fiscal 2008.

Find out what a "megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser beam" is when you click here for more on the Air Force and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's plans for applying the laser weapon against ballistic missiles.