Near the end of 2012, the US Air Force declassified a build-up of documents which included secret plans to build an aircraft which can be likened to a flying-saucer, which was designed to shoot down Soviet bombers. This hidden programme, named Project 1794, began in the 1950s when a team of engineers were asked to build a disc-shape vehicle which had the ability to travel at supersonic speeds whilst at high altitudes. The documents described desired speeds which were four times the speed of sound, whilst reaching an altitude of 100,000 feet. The project is said to have been estimated to cost more than $3 million which, translated into today's value of the dollar, is more like $26 million. The project was allegedly cancelled in December 1961 following tests that could not enable the desired requirements for speed and altitude.
During the time of the Cold War the CIA began a venture called Project MK-ULTRA, which as a secret and illegal human research programme, with the aim of investigating the potential to create mind-control systems. The operators involved in the programme tests the effects of hypnosis, biological agents and drugs, such as LSD and barbiturates on humans. Some historians have suggested that the aim of this was to create a programme which could be used to "programme" the brains of potential assassins. The CIA director at the time, Richard Helms, ordered for all documents relating to the Project MK-ULTRA to be destroyed, although a formal investigation was conducted several years later. Since then, the concept of the project became the basis for a number of movies including "The Manchurian Candidate" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats."
Whilst many people know about Area 51, not many people know about Project Grudge, which involved the US Air Force studying the existence of UFOs. The project began in 1949 with an aim of studying unidentified flying objects, but it was short-lived. There were some critics of Project Grudge, who stated that the programme was created to disparage prior UFO reports, and that a very small amount of research was actually carried out.
In September 1946, President Harry Truman gave authorisation to a new programme which was named Operation Paperclip. The central aim of the project was to lure scientists from Nazi Germany into the United States after World War II. These German scientists were recruited by officials at the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor to the CIA) to help the country's postwar efforts, with a purpose of ensuring that no valuable scientific knowledge would end up at the access of the Soviet Union or the divided East and West Germany.
A more well-known secret research programme was the Manhattan Project, which began in 1939, and was held in strictest confidence at the time. The project's aim was to investigate the potential power of atomic weapons, and proceeded to produce the world's first atomic bomb. The first nuclear bomb was detonated at 5:30 a.m. on July 16, 1945, and created a mushroom cloud which reached 40,000 feet, with an explosive power equivalent to more than 15,000 tons of TNT. Just a month after the Trinity test, two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during the closing stages of World War II. This was the only time that nuclear weapons have been used in war.