The CIA in August finally admitted to the existence of Area 51 and declassified documents about the military base in Nevada, which has long been the focus of UFO conspiracy theories due to its secrecy. A new set of declassified documents gives even more details on Area 51's role in stealth programs -- during the Cold War.
Posted last week in a new e-book by Jeffrey Richelson, a senior fellow with George Washington University's National Security Archive who filed the initial Freedom of Information Act request for information released earlier this year, more than 60 declassified documents reveal how the Air Force used Area 51 to further develop its stealth programs in the 1970s and 1980s and how it held "secretly obtained" Soviet MiG fighters.
Signs outside of Area 51. (Image source: Shutterstock)
Documents released in August already dispelled the belief held by conspiracy theorists that Area 51 was the site of various extraterrestrial testing or occurrences, labeling it officially as a top-secret Cold War test site. Some of the details in Richelson's latest information drop had already been speculated about or released in the previous declassification, but the e-book still contains some interesting new facts.
An F-117 (Image source: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II/Department of Defense)
Some of the documents focus on the importance officials placed on maintaining secrecy about the activities at Area 51, while other went into the reconnaissance aircraft tested there. Here's a bit from the introduction to the e-book detailing what is included in the documents:
Included is a 1961 memo (Document 1) from the CIA's inspector general raising the issue of security, and a response (Document 2) reporting the shared concerns of the CIA Deputy Director for Plans, Richard Bissell. Security concerns led to consideration (Document 3) of photographing the area with U.S. reconnaissance assets and a debate (Document 4, Document 5) over the possible release of a photograph of the facility taken by SKYLAB astronauts.
Other documents focus on the aircraft tested at the facility (and their operational use) — particularly the stealth F-117. Those documents include a variety of histories of the F-117 squadron, with details on participation in operations and exercises. In addition, there are extracts from two reports (Document 15, Document 16) on accidents involving F-117 aircraft, as well as histories and assessments (Document 17,Document 18, Document 23, Document 36) of F-117 deployment in operations DESERT STORM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Also included are fact sheets (Document 58,Document 59, Document 60) concerning three programs, at least two of which were tested at Area 51 — the Bird of Prey and TACIT BLUE.
Also represented in the posting is another type of activity at Area 51 — the exploitation of covertly acquired Soviet MiGs. Included is a 300-page Defense Intelligence Agency report (Document 50) on the exploitation of the MiG-21, a project titled HAVE DOUGHNUT. Other documents (Document 51, Document 52) concern the exploitation effort concerning two MiG-17s, efforts named HAVE DRILL and HAVE FERRY.
Read more about the information divulged in Richelson's e-book.
Featured image via Shutterstock.