How the CIA tried to create a weapon of Zeus

(ORDO NEWS) — Documents on the creation of climate weapons remained classified.

In the late 1960s, a story began in the United States that could lead to the creation of a new climate weapon. Documents found in the archives of the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley indicate that military specialists of the department discussed the possibility of destroying enemy targets or the enemy himself using lightning.

“Weapon of Zeus”

In 1967, a meteorological scientist, whose name remains secret to this day, proposed to the CIA leadership his concept of controlled lightning, the discharges of which could be used as a weapon.

This would almost completely eliminate the possibility of identifying those who use it. Declassified materials from the US Intelligence Agency indicate that the agency took this idea quite seriously.

The concept of the scientist was based on the fact that linear lightning is a powerful electrical discharge. It occurs when there is a strong electrification of the clouds or the earth. The electric field of the cloud has a huge intensity – about a million volts / m.

When large oppositely charged regions come close enough to each other, some electrons and ions, running between them, create a glowing plasma channel through which the rest of the charged particles rush after them. This is how lightning occurs.

Concept details

The main damaging element was to be artificial conductors, consisting of ionized wire a few thousandths of a centimeter thick and several kilometers long.

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True, such a conductor could only be used under certain conditions: the object to be destroyed had to be in the epicenter of a thunderstorm, where the coil of wire was delivered by plane and then dropped by parachute.

As conceived by the developer, the unwound wire was supposed to carry along a powerful lightning discharge with a power of about 30,000 amperes and hit the target without arousing suspicion from the enemy.

This “weapon of Zeus” undoubtedly had merit. Firstly, cheapness: lightning is “issued” by a thunderstorm almost free of charge. Secondly, a lightning strike does not leave behind traces such as bullet casings, rocket components, or any other evidence of government involvement in the crime.

Experiments with climate weapons

Perhaps in 1967, this plan did not seem so far-fetched: at this time in Vietnam, the US Air Force was conducting an experimental operation “Popeye” using climate weapons.

It took place during the rainy season from March to November. The essence of the operation was to actively influence the clouds: silver iodide was scattered from aircraft in rain clouds, which led to heavy precipitation.

As a result, their number increased and became three times higher than the norm. This led to the flooding of rice fields, as well as damage to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, along which the Vietnamese guerrillas were supplied with weapons and equipment.

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Interestingly, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) later experimented with fired lightning and went much further with their Nimbus project, establishing the only dedicated outdoor lightning research center in the US.

However, the emphasis was on fundamental scientific research and the prevention of lightning strikes. Ironically, the newest aircraft of the US Air Force – the F-35 Lightning II – was especially vulnerable to these strikes.

“They claimed they weren’t interested in using lightning as a weapon,” University of Florida professor Martin Uman told the Tampa Bay Times in 2017, after DARPA stopped funding the program. “If the generals were behind our research, we didn’t know about it,” the scientist added.

Concept flaws

The fading of interest in the concept of controlled lightning is quite understandable. As tempting as the use of such a climate weapon may seem, specifically the use of lightning has serious problems, which is why the idea was abandoned by the CIA.

Firstly, in order for the lightning to “work”, it is necessary to wait for a thunderstorm, and secondly, in order for the effect of the discharge to be maximum, the artificial conductor must be in close proximity to the target, which is also not easy to achieve.

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