Blink-182 plays a 2016 concert.

Blink-182 plays a 2016 concert. Will Fisher / Flickr / CC2.0

US Army Will Study 'Metamaterials' Collected by UFO Study Group

The service has pledged to spend $750,000 to examine futuristic materials and technologies collected or studied by a group run by Blink-182's frontman.

UFO truthers don’t typically hold a lot of credibility within the research community, but today the Defense Department is acknowledging at least one such group could have some serious contributions to make.

The Army Combat Capabilities Development Command recently partnered with the To The Stars Academy to study a wide variety of different technologies and materials, most of which sound like they were pulled straight from a sci-fi movie. The cooperative research and development agreement is set to last five years and could ultimately help the Army develop new capabilities for its fleet of ground vehicles.

Within the UFO research community, the To The Stars Academy, or TTSA, carries some clout. While its chairman, former Blink-182 singer and lead guitarist Tom DeLonge, garners most of the public’s attention, the group counts former defense and intelligence officials and industry executives among its members. To date, most of TTSA’s work has focused on publicizing the Pentagon’s encounters with UFOs, but under the latest agreement, the group would take on a more technical role.

“To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science is a company with materiel and technology innovations that offer capability advancements for Army ground vehicles,” officials wrote in the agreement, a copy of which was provided to Nextgov. “The [Academy] will share their innovations with the government, who will use its laboratories and resources to characterize the technologies and determine if they have appropriate applications on ground vehicles.”

Specifically, the Army wants to explore a handful of futuristic materials and technologies the group has either studied or has in its possession, including inertial mass reduction, quantum communications, beamed energy propulsion, active camouflage and directed photon projection. The Army also plans to study the “mechanical and [electromagnetic] sensitive” metamaterials—a type of synthetic material that can manipulate light and other waves—the group collected “as part of its field operations.”

In the short term, Army researchers are particularly interested in studying how those metamaterials could improve “camouflage, concealment, deception and obscuration” capabilities of their ground vehicles, Doug Halleaux, a spokesperson for the Combat Capabilities Development Command, told Nextgov. By manipulating the light waves around a particular object, it’s possible for metamaterials to render it virtually invisible.

In the years ahead, Halleaux said the partnership will place a special emphasis on developing secure quantum communications.

Both the Army and TTSA recognize many of these technologies are “purely theoretical,” but some are already far along in the development process, according to TTSA Chief Operating Officer Kari DeLonge. In an email to Nextgov, she said the group’s active camouflage technologies are “a very mature capability,” for example, while secure quantum communication systems are still largely in the design stage. 

The active camouflage tools in the works today don’t rely on metamaterials, she noted, but the research conducted through the partnership could eventually help develop a similar capability using such materials.

Unlike traditional contracts, cooperative research and development agreements, or CRADAs, are not transactional, so TTSA isn’t getting any money from the partnership and the Army won’t be directly acquiring any new tech. Rather, the agreement will help the Army expand its understanding of metamaterials and other technologies, and allow TTSA to conduct an in-depth analysis of the materials in its possession, Halleaux said.

“[CRADAs] give our scientists and engineers a chance to dig into the technology or the science with very little risk,” he said. "We’re not outlaying a bunch of money … it’s truly a mechanism that gives us a chance to look at stuff early on and to decide whether [it’s] something to look deeper at.”

In the CRADA document, Army officials valued the TTSA partnership at around $1 million, though at this point they have no plans to enter a formal contract with the group, according to Halleaux.

Though he called the recent CRADA “one of the more adventurous” partnerships he’s worked on, Halleaux was quick to dismiss any claims that the Army was studying “alien technology.” TTSA may purport the metamaterials and other tech in their possession came from UFOs, but for the Army, those claims are irrelevant, he said.

“Speculation ... as to the origin of materials really to our researchers isn’t what matters,” Halleaux said. “The reason TTSA was taken seriously is the credentials of the people on their team. These are folks that have backgrounds in industry and backgrounds in materials science and defense work. [They’re] serious professionals with respect to backgrounds.”