A GUIDE TO CLASSIFIED MILITARY PROGRAMS

Each year when compiling data for the poster and going through the military budgets I come across dozens of classified programs. Sometimes the names bring up strange images of bizarre devices (CODENAME: LINK PLUMERIA) and sometimes they don’t (Special Update Program).

Below are a serious of images pulled straight from declassified military research and development budget documentation. Classified programs are highlighted with some notes on how they are classified. I thought it would be interesting to peruse since some of the programs can certainly provide a jumping off point for the imagination.

In the documents there are several different ways the military will classify a program. They will either give it a code name, like CHALK EAGLE or COBRA JUDY. Some of these names are related, like RETRACT MAPLE, RETRACT ELM, or RESTRACT LARCH, but I can’t really say whether the actually programs are related, they are after all… classified.

Other programs will have very vague names, like Special Update Program, Selected Activities, Combined Advanced Applications, or the trusty Classified Programs. And in some cases you will see the actual program name, Advanced Geospatial Intelligence, HUMINT (Controlled), or National Security Agency, but in these cases the funding is always classified, meaning, it simply isn’t listed. Funding for other classified programs and most codenamed programs is generally listed which can provide some insight into which stage the program is in.

So take a look at the part of the federal government that is unaccountable to you as a tax payer.

Below is a list of the all the codenames I was able to pull out of the various documents.

CODENAME — Funding in millions USD — suspected usage courtesy of designation-systems.net

  • TRACTOR HIP — 4.367 –”US Army, classified RDT&E program”
  • TRACTOR HIKE — 12.633 — “US Army, classified strategic RDT&E program”
  • TRACTOR CAGE — 18.448 — “US Army, classified strategic RDT&E program”
  • TRACTOR ROSE — 6.526 — “US Army, classified RDT&E program”
  • TRACTOR CARD — 16.573 — “US Army, appears to be an advanced tactical missile technology program”
  • CHALK EAGLE — 211.201 — “USN, tactical RDT&E program”
  • CHALK CORAL — 28.297 — “USN, tactical RDT&E program”
  • RETRACT MAPLE — 346.144 — “USN tactical RDT&E program”
  • LINK PLUMERIA — 88.748 — “USN, tactical RDT&E program”
  • RETRACT ELM — 79.144 — “USN tactical RDT&E program”
  • LINK EVERGREEN — 31.607 — ???
  • COBRA JUDY — 132.679 — “Ship-based radar system for TELINT and missile test surveillance (impact area surveillance); AN/SPQ-11 on board ‘USNS Observation Island’, stationary in middle of the Pacific”
  • COBRA BALL — ??? — “Optical system for re-entry research; follow-on to Rivet Ball, 1 RC-135S ‘61-2663′ Cobra Ball Minimum, then Cobra Ball I, 10/1969-1989+, modified under Big Safari”
  • FOREST GREEN — ??? — “USAF, intelligence collection operation, possibly SIGINT program for NSA”
  • RETRACT LARCH — 89.601 — ???
  • STORM — 27.107 — ???

Total $1,093,075,000. Thats one billion dollars for just the classified programs that got a codename.

I suppose a post like this brings up more questions than it answers. My apologies. My big question are, does the total $481 billion for the Department of Defense include all these line items where the funding levels are blank? … and if it doesn’t, then how much more are we talking about here?… and are there some programs, known as ‘deep black’ that don’t even get a classified line item in the budget?

I won’t be holding my breath for the answers.

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