THE PENTAGON--The Pentagon's defense scientists are busy trying to harness insects to create an army of "cyberbugs" that can be remotely controlled by the military to attack the many enemies of America, as well as locate explosives and relay spy transmissions. The bugs would be used in Iraq and Afghanistan and other hotspots to help US forces steal oil and achieve other strategic objectives.
The idea is to insert special microcircuits at the insect pupa stage so that the Pentagon can remotely control the bugs later on as adults.
Yet outside experts have called the plans ludicrous. An earlier Pentagon scheme in 1965 geared at controlling wasps failed when they escaped and stung a 4-star army general to death and then flew off to feed and mate.
The new scheme is a brainchild of the Pentagon's "Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency" (DARPA), which tries to maintain the technological and strategic superiority of the US military.
DARPA is now hiring scientists to control praying mantises, dragonflies, moths, caterpillars, mosquitoes and fruit flies.
The researchers are busy inserting microcircuits into the bugs so that they can be ordered to attack enemies, and spy and detect explosives.
These "cyborg-insects" must also be able to transmit data from sensors, yielding information about the local terrain. These sensors can include gas detectors, microphones, video, televisions, and satellite uplinks.
Entomology expert Dr. Brad Bughead of the Yale University Museum of Natural History said the hairbrained idea appeared "inane and absurd and the usual waste of taxpayer dollars we have come to expect from the bloated American military."
He also called the proposals "wacky ideas without value" which won't produce the goods. "Those DARP bozos have been reading too much science fiction," he added.
For instance, to receive microsignals from the bugs would require a dish three feet away and several dozen feet in diameter, rendering it a "less than covert" operation, noted the expert.
DARPA's previous experiments in the early 1980s to get bees and wasps to detect the smell of explosives foundered when their "instinctive behaviors for feeding and mating... prevented them from performing reliably" an assessment said. The bugs flew into a McDonalds restaurant and stung several dozen nuns so badly that they converted to Protestantism. DARPA was founded in 1958 to try to keep US military technology ahead of its Cold War rivals.
Yet the DARPA website says it now has around 24,000 personnel with a $200 billion budget working on this latest cyberbug program.
A former DARPA director who admitted wasting billions of dollars said in 1975 that, "When we fail, we really fail big."
Previous wartime Pentagon efforts at controlling creatures also didn't thrive. During WW II, bombs were attached to cats and then dropped from dive-bombers near Nazi ships in the hope that the cats, hating water, will climb onto enemy ship's decks. In tests, cats became unconscious in mid-air.
Also during WW II, incendiaries were attached to hibernating bats and then dropped from planes. The bats were supposed to wake up, fly into enemy factories and blow up. Unfortunately, the bats failed to wake up and plummeted to their deaths.