Slide 1 of 45
A secret history
Government and military secrets can range from terrifying to amusing to downright absurd, but most are nothing short of intriguing. From a secret U.S. Air Force project to build a supersonic flying saucer to a now-famous World War II-era research program that produced the first atomic bombs to a plan to train domesticated cats to spy on the Soviet Union, here are 22 declassified military and CIA secrets.
Project 1794Slide 2 of 45
In late 2012, the U.S. Air Force declassified a trove of documents, including records of a secret program to build a flying saucer-type aircraft designed to shoot down Soviet bombers. The ambitious program, called Project 1794, was initiated in the 1950s, and a team of engineers was tasked with building a disc-shape vehicle capable of traveling at supersonic speeds at high altitudes.
The declassified documents reveal plans for the plane to reach a top speed of Mach 4 (four times the speed of sound), and reach an altitude of 100,000 feet (30,480 meters). The project's estimated cost was more than $3 million, which in today's dollars would be more than $26 million.
Project 1794 was canceled in December 1961 after tests suggested the flying saucer design was aerodynamically unstable and would likely be uncontrollable at high speeds (let alone supersonic speeds).Slide 3 of 45
Project IcewormSlide 4 of 45
In the 1960s, the U.S. Army embarked on a secret mission to build a series of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the Greenland ice sheet. The objective was to house medium-range missiles close enough to strike targets within the Soviet Union.
The program was codenamed Project Iceworm, but to test its feasibility, the Army launched a cover research project called "Camp Century" in 1960. Under this guise, engineers built a network of underground buildings and tunnels, including living quarters, a kitchen, a recreation hall, infirmary, laboratories, supply rooms, a communications center and a nuclear power plant.
The base, which was kept secret from the Danish government, operated for seven years. The program was canceled in 1966 after shifting ice created unstable conditions. Today, the crushed remains of Project Iceworm are buried beneath Arctic snow.Slide 5 of 45
Project MK-ULTRASlide 6 of 45
During the Cold War, the CIA initiated Project MK-ULTRA, a secret and illegal human research program to investigate potential mind-control systems. The program's operators examined the effects of hypnosis, biological agents and drugs, such as LSD and barbiturates, on human subjects. Some historians suggest the program was designed to develop a mind-control system that could be used to "program" the brains of potential assassins. [The 10 Craziest Military Experiments]
In 1973, then-CIA director Richard Helms ordered that all documents from Project MK-ULTRA be destroyed, but a formal investigation into the program was launched several years later. The project became the basis for several movies, such as "The Manchurian Candidate" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats."Slide 7 of 45
Area 51Slide 8 of 45