The Pentagon wants another crack at shooting down ballistic missiles with laser beams. According to The War Zone, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency is looking to put lasers on high-flying drones. Their mission: to intercept enemy missiles during the so-called "boost phase." This is the second attempt to build such a thing, following an aborted project that involved mounting a giant laser on a Boeing 747. As reported at The War Zone, the Pentagon's planned drone would fly at upwards of 63,000 feet of altitude and would loiter near enemy territory for a day or more, ready to shoot down ballistic missiles rising from below with a concentrated pulse of laser light.
The Pentagon currently has no defense that engages missiles in the boost phase, and as The War Zone points out, shooting down missiles during these early moments is the "holy grail" of ballistic missile defense. Ballistic missiles are slowest in the boost phase, making them easier to hit. During the boost phase, the actual warheads, decoys, and other penetrating aids designed to fool enemy defenses are still attached to the missile. So, if you shoot down a ballistic missile in the boost phase, then you could take out multiple warheads and so-called "pen aids" with a single shot.