When MQ-1 Predators are armed, they head off into the wild blue yonder with a lone pair of Hellfire missiles under their wings. It’s a double-barreled shotgun you can’t reload.

But folks at General Atomics are getting increasingly excited by the HELLADS — the High Energy Liquid Laser Defense System. It is designed to shrink a flying laser into a package small enough to cram onto an aircraft.

“It would give us an unlimited magazine,” says one person close to the program.