Airborne Anti-ICBM Lasers w/ UAV Relay Fleets
The flying laser cannon could be accompanied by a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) fitted with mirrors. These relay UAVs would be harder to spot and more disposable than a 747, and could bounce the high-energy beam onto targets that might otherwise be out of range, or out of the plane's line-of-sight. With multiple flying drones, a single ABL could cover an exponentially wider area. It would be an entirely new combination of lasers and robots—and it may be the answer to critics aiming to dismantle ABL before it ever flies.Such a defensive weapon--if effective--would render ICBM nuclear attacks much less reliable. If an attacking nation is unsure if its missiles will get through, it will be forced to think very carefully before it launches.
Originally commissioned by the United States Air Force, this flying laser is now touted as a mobile missile defense platform, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles before they escape the atmosphere. If North Korea or some other hostile nation were on the verge of launching a strike against the United States or its allies, a small fleet of ABLs would be deployed to the region. They would loiter at altitudes as high as 40,000 ft, and if a missile did appear over the horizon, a laser would automatically dart out, painting the threat with enough heat to send it tumbling back to Earth. _PopMech
This type of technology only ratchets up the arms race into new areas of research, of course. But it makes it ever so much harder for third world nations such as Pakistan, Iran, or North Korea to make credible threats against more technologically advanced nations who can have capable R&D infrastructures.
That is one way that Ronald Reagan intimidated the USSR military establishment into a nervous breakdown. Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense was not a credible defense at the time. But USSR analysts understood that for the US to even be working on such a thing revealed a huge gap in R&D capability between the USSR and the USA.
The same type of infrastructural gap exists now between the US and most of the rest of the world. Only China has the capacity to eventually develop an R&D infrastructure to rival that of the US. Russia's wealth is being stripped and shipped to Swiss bank accounts by the Putin gang. Russia never did develop beyond a "one-trick pony" economy, dependent on fossil fuel reserves that it is incompetent to develop efficiently.
If the airborne laser + UAV relay fleets prove capable of overcoming countermeasures--such as reflective coatings to deflect and dissipate laser energies--no doubt the US will share the technology with NATO allies and Israel. Which means that the technology will make its way to Russia and China via espionage of various types. The infrastructure for rapid development and updating to keep up with the rapid development of countermeasures and counter-countermeasures is what Russia lacks, and will always lack as long as it is run by criminals and KGB types.