The original article says that:
The laser beam's energy defeated the vehicle.
"Defeated?" That could mean any of a wide range of things, but the vagueness strongly suggests that, just as the smart money predicted, it wasn't particularly impressive. Why did we expect that?
Well, back in November last year, this program was investigated by the AFSAB and determined to be a complete waste of money. Since then, Boeing has had the spin machine on full bore to avoid getting cancelled. One of the publicity efforts they made showed artists' impressions of applications for the thing. And one of those pictures showed it "defeating" a vehicle ... by flattening a tire. (Perhaps due to excessive honesty, that picture now seems to have disappeared.)
Yes folks, if you stand in this beam unprotected, you will be badly hurt, maybe even killed. But to block it you don't need super-reflective mirrors or advanced aerosols, a simple plank of wood will do the job. Going to destroy ammo dumps with this thing? Not if they are covered over!
It was in the same spin campaign that they came up with the ludicrous "stealth death ray" application. Quite simply, the reason we have no death rays half a century after lasers were invented is that they are very poor weapons with almost every operational parameter far, far inferior to conventional firearms.
The one feature of lasers that is actually a positive is the light speed energy delivery, which makes them much easier to aim at ultra-high speed targets. That is the reason they are being actively investigated for missile defence. But here Boeing has been poodling around with a "miniaturised" (well, slightly smaller) version that is clearly unsuitable for missile defence, and someone has called them out on the whole "applications" issue. They seem to have had a bit of brain-storming session and tried to come up with things that sounded more useful than flattening tires, and one of the things they came up with is the "stealth death ray".
As publicity, the "stealth death ray" has worked great. Heck, it got them into El Reg!
But as numerous other bloggers have noted, it doesn't make a blind bit of sense. The USA is the only country that has a flying stealth death ray (or rather, the USA is the only country silly enough to be funneling cash to a company that is promising to build one.) Contrary to what some people have claimed, due to industrial accidents the diagnosis of laser burns is well understood. It is obvious that this system will have no "deniability" whatsoever.
What is even sillier is that the chosen platform, the C-130 Hercules, is a cargo plane that is about the most unstealthy aircraft in existence. It cannot fly at extreme altitudes, it has only intermediate range, and it has the radar signature of a large barn fitted with a pair of high speed windmills.
In contrast, in the places where you might want to use a stealth death ray (e.g. Waziristan), it is remarkably inexpensive to just pay someone to go and shoot the guy you're after. If you want it to be deniable, we recommend paying in used bills.