The Boeing 747 is an immediately recognizable aircraft, but one of its most unusual incarnations must surely be that of an airborne laser testbed. Going under the nomenclature AL-1, this Boeing 747-400F features a chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) mounted inside the fuselage. This laser, whose six modules weighs in at around 18,000kg, is designed to shoot down tactical ballistic missiles. For this task, it’s assisted by two target illuminator lasers that track the target. Since the program was initiated in 1996, AL-1 has successfully targeted missiles, the first occasion being in February 2010. However, after USD5.2 billion had been spent on the project, the US Air Force (USAF) conceded the AL-1 “does not reflect something that is operationally viable.