From sniffing dogs, to sneaky spy cats; Here are 11 Amazing Armed Forces Animals
Along with dolphins, sea lions have gained a good reputation in the US Navy’s marine mammal program. They’re known for having excellent underwater hearing, are able to swim around 25 mph, and are able to dive repeatedly at depths up to 1,000 feet. That enables the sea lions to work as minesweepers. They’ve also been trained to attach a special restraining cuff on the legs of human divers or saboteurs … which allows suspects to be hauled to the surface. A harness worn by the sea lion carries cameras providing underwater video in real time. It’s said that just one of these creatures, along with two human handlers and a rubber boat can replace a full-sized naval vessel and her crew in searching the ocean floor for objects!
The US Navy has employed the use of bottlenose dolphins since the 1960s. Along with sea lions, the marine mammals have served to patrol the waters. Their sophisticated sonar is used to locate mines, based on the concept of echolocation an ability commonly linked with bats. In the case of dolphins, the animal sends out a series of clicks that will bounce off of objects, before returning to sender (so to speak). Experts say the process allows the dolphin to form a mental image of the object detected. Then the dolphin reports back to its human handler using a series of yes or no responses. Upon receiving a positive response, the handler can choose to send the dolphin back with a weighted buoy line to mark the object’ location. Did you know the dolphins abilities were used to help clear ports during both the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Navy disavows training the creatures to use as weapons against humans.
Humans have let slip the dogs of war for thousands of years. Larger breeds have served on the battlefield … and have been trained for sentry duty by peoples ranging from the ancient Egyptians to Native Americans. Romans equipped their dogs with spiked collars … and Spanish conquistadores outfitted their attack dogs with armor when they colonized South America in the 1500s. In modern times,dogs have served more as messengers, scouts and trackers. In the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF), police dogs have been used in anti-terrorist operations … and to help protect airfields by detecting drugs. The RAF has trained police dogs since 1945 … In the picture, you can see a dog named ‘Pacino’ jumping through a tire as his handler looks on. It’s part of some training undertaken at an RAF base in Cornwall, and the exercise is called ‘through the keyhole’. The picture was an entry in a contest sponsored by the RAF to find an image that best represented the UK armed forces (#7).
Did you know that in World War II these flying mammals were part of a strange animal experiment to turn them into bombs? The idea was to attach tiny incendiary bombs to the critters. Then (so it was planned) they would set thousands of small fires as they flew through Japanese cities while searching for a place to roost. The bizarre idea was even given the go-ahead by President Franklin Roosevelt. Despite the US Navy using some 6,000 of the critters, most of the bats were simply uncooperative. They would just fly away or fall like a rock. The Navy spent around $2 million on the project before finally admitting defeat . However, the bat bombs did manage to set ablaze both an Army hangar and a general’s car. Today scientists at the Pentagon think the bat’s flight mechanics could help inspire future designs of aircraft and spy robots.
If you have a cat, you know they’re pretty sneaky critters to begin with … so the CIA decided to put the felines natural ability to use and turn them into spies. Declassified documents have revealed that scientists planned to implant cats with microphones. This was proposed in the 1960s with the goal of monitoring Soviet enemies. Called “Project Acoustic Kitty”, some charts associated with the program display how the system would be attached to cats (#1, 3). It’s pretty self-explanatory, if a bit gruesome. A wire was placed into the cat’s tail, which served as the antenna. The wire traveled up its spine … and connected to a microphone implanted into the cat’s ear canal. A transmitter and battery was inserted into the animal’s chest to power the system. The cyborg kittles were never actually deployed to the field, and the $13 million project was shut down. This despite a memo that hailed it as “a remarkable scientific achievement.”