Project HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) is a US Air Force, Navy and University of Alaska funded investigation to "understand, simulate and control ionospheric processes that might alter the performance of communication and surveillance systems" started in 1993 for a proposed twenty year series of experiments. It has aroused some controversy among conspiracy theorists for its alleged potential as a weapon or mind control device, and among environmentalists for its effect on the atmosphere.
The investigation site is near Gakona, Alaska (lat. 62.39° N, long 145.15° W). An extensive array of 180 aerial towers is in the process of being erected at a initial cost of $30m to make the phased array transmitter, named the Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI). HAARP is the third US ionospheric research site, the others are near the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and near Fairbanks, Alaska. A European research station is based near Tromsų in Norway. The principal European and US HAARP sites are located in high latitudes as the auroral region provides a very wide variety of ionospheric conditions to study, as well as quiet locations away from the electromagnetic interference produced by big cities.
The HAARP project aims to direct a 3.6 MW pulse in the 2.8-10 MHz bandwidth into the ionosphere and then to examine the effects of the pulse and the recovery period using associated radar equipment. According to the HAARP team, this will advance the study of basic natural processes that occur in the ionosphere under the natural but much stronger influence of solar interaction, as well as how the natural ionosphere affects radio signals. This will enable scientists to develop techniques to mitigate these effects in order to improve the reliability and/or performance of communication and navigation systems, which would have a wide range of applications in both the civilian and military sectors.
The project is funded by the Office of Naval Research and jointly managed by the ONR and Air Force Research Laboratory, with the principal involvement of the University of Alaska. Fourteen other universities and educational institutions have been involved in the development of the project and its instruments, namely the University of Alaska, Penn State University (ARL), Boston College, UCLA, Clemson University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts, MIT, Polytechnic University, Stanford University, and the University of Tulsa. The project's specifications were developed by the universities, which are continuing to play a major role in the design of future research efforts. There is both military and commercial interest in its outcome, as many communications and navigation systems depend on signals being reflected from the ionosphere or passing through the ionosphere to satellites.
The HAARP project offers annual open days to permit the general public to visit the facility, and makes a public virtue of openness; according to the team, "there are no classified documents pertaining to HAARP."
The objectives of the HAARP project became the subject of controversy in the mid-1990s, following claims that the antennas could be used as a weapon. A small group of American physicists aired complaints in scientific journals such as Physics and Society, charging that HAARP could be seeking ways to blow other countries' spacecraft out of the sky or disrupt communications over large portions of the planet. The physicist critics of HAARP have had little complaint about the project's current stage, but have expressed fears that it could in future be expanded into an experimental weapon.
These concerns were amplified by Bernard Eastlund, a physicist who developed some of the concepts behind HAARP in the 1980s and proposed using high-frequency radio waves to beam large amounts of power into the ionosphere, energizing its electrons and ions in order to disable incoming missiles and knock out enemy satellite communications. The US military became interested in the idea as an alternative to the laser-based Strategic Defense Initiative. However, Eastlund's ideas were eventually dropped as SDI itself mutated into the more limited National Missile Defense of today. The contractors selected to build HAARP have denied that any of Eastlund's patents were used in the development of the project.
After the physicists raised early concerns, the controversy was stoked by local activism. In September 1995, a book entitled "Angels Don't Play This HAARP: Advances in Tesla Technology" was written by a resident of Eagle River, Alaska, claiming that the project in its present stage could be used for "geophysical warfare". HAARP has subsequently become a favorite target for conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theorists have suggested that it could be used to test the ability "to deliver very large amount of energy, comparable to a nuclear bomb, anywhere on earth", "changing weather patterns", "blocking all global communications", "disrupting human mental processes" and mind control, communicating with submarines, and "x-raying the earth".
Some have claimed that the HAARP facility may be similar in operation to the Wardenclyffe Tower, developed by Nikola Tesla as a communications facility. Though never completed successfully in Tesla's lifetime due to lack of funding, and finally dismantled for scrap during wartime, people who draw parallels between HAARP and Wardenclyffe contend that its principles are currently being implemented by the HAARP project. While Tesla's tower was to be his supreme test of the applicability of transmitted power, HAARP is being used to study ionospheric effects on radio communication. Wardenclyffe also provides a basis for a current search for practical applications for focused wave and particle beams, such as the laser and maser, which according to some could have allowed wireless transceiving to any distance with negligible loss due to radiation. Tesla claimed that the Wardenclyffe tower could have produced explosive releases of energy, transmitting weaponized impulses of electromagnetic energy. The likelihood of this working was, however, never satisfactorily established, and at the time Tesla was in outright rivalry with Thomas Edison and both were making rather extreme claims.
In August 2002, support for the critics' conspiracy theories came from an unexpected direction – the State Duma (parliament) of Russia. The Duma published a critical report on HAARP written by the international affairs and defense committees, signed by 90 deputies and presented to President Vladimir Putin. The report claimed that "the U.S. is creating new integral geophysical weapons that may influence the near-Earth medium with high-frequency radio waves ... The significance of this qualitative leap could be compared to the transition from cold steel to fire arms, or from conventional weapons to nuclear weapons. This new type of weapons differs from previous types in that the near-Earth medium becomes at once an object of direct influence and its component." However, given the timing of the Russian intervention, it is likely that it was related to a controversy at the time concerning the US withdrawal in June 2002 from the Russian-American Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
The critics' views have been rejected by HAARP's defenders, who have pointed out that the amount of energy at the project's disposal is minuscule compared to the colossal energies dumped into the atmosphere by solar radiation and thunderstorms. A University of Alaska, Geophysical Institute scientist has compared HAARP to an "immersion heater in the Yukon River." It would also be unable to effect any long-lasting changes; as the ionosphere is inherently a chaotically turbulent region, any artificially induced changes would be "swept clean" within seconds or minutes at the most. HAARP's supporters also point to the lack of serious scientific evidence to support some of the more exotic claims being made about HAARP, such as the conjecture that the system caused the 2003 North America blackout.
- High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/). US Air Force, US Navy, and University of Alaska.
- "ELF Generation Using HAARP (http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/elfindex.html)". Haarp.alaska.edu.
- Trull, D., "Tesla: The Electric Magician (http://www.parascope.com/en/0996/tesla6.htm), Chapter 6, The Forgotten Genius". Enigma Editor, parascope.com.
- Personal website of Jerry E. Smith (http://jerryesmith.com/) author of HAARP: The Ultimate Weapon of the Conspiracy (Adventures Unlimited Press, 1998).
Do not confuse Project HAARP with Project HARP.