DARPA is an agency within the US Defense Department that works on advanced technology for the military. On August 28, it put out feelers to Twitter users, hoping to obtain information about a series of urban underground tunnels for “research & experimentation.”
TIME magazine reported, when someone snarkily tweeted that DARPA could be looking to hide demogorgons (from the series Stranger Things), DARPA shot back their own brand of sarcasm, writing, “Please. Demogorgons are such a Department of Energy thing.”
The fact that the Defense Department is looking for underground tunnels in the USA has stirred interest in secret tunnels, underground government activities, DARPA secret projects, and other goings-on — clandestine or otherwise.
One of DARPA’s tweets stated, “The ideal space would be a human-made underground environment spanning several city blocks w/ complex layout & multiple stories, including atriums, tunnels & stairwells. Spaces that are currently closed off from pedestrians or can be temporarily used for testing are of interest.”
On the heels of this summer’s recent groundswell of interest in invading Area 51, where government secret activities have been going on for decades, as well as the recent admission that the Navy has been tracking UFOs (“UAPs,” to use the government’s new term), DARPA’s call for urban underground tunnels has been met with suspicion, to say the least.
And DARPA’s explanation has only made things more mysterious:
“DARPA is interested in understanding the state-of-the-art in innovative technologies that may enable future solutions to rapidly map, navigate, and search unknown complex subterranean environments to locate objects of interest. To support these technologies, DARPA is looking to find locations that researchers can utilize to experiment and enhance their innovative approaches.”
Business Insider reported that DARPA’s request is related to the Pentagon’s growing attention on underground warfare in large urban spaces, having spent at least half a billion dollars on the activity since 2017.
So what exactly is going on underground that makes the Department of Defense so concerned about it protecting with military force and technology? It’s nearly impossible to know — that’s the secret part.
DARPA spokesperson Jared Adams said, “Complex urban underground infrastructure can present significant challenges for situational awareness in time-sensitive scenarios, such as active combat operations or disaster response.” But this still tells the public very little.
Subterranean Challenge competes underground
It seems that underground “research” and competitions have been going on for a while, and according to DARPA, this is why they’re looking for below-ground space — as a venue for the Subterranean Challenge.
National Defense Magazine reported that the Subterranean Challenge, or the SubT Challenge, invites teams of researchers from around the world to compete and find technological solutions for underground operations.
It’s a multi-phase competition to utilize robotics technologies that can scan, map and explore, underground environments in the forms of tunnels, urban underground spaces, and caves. The challenges underground include little or no light, places where GPS won’t work and uncertain terrain.
Tim Chung SubT program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said, “The SubT Challenge aims to minimize the level of human involvement required so that personnel won’t have to be part of the first wave of forces entering a potentially hazardous subterranean environment in the future.”
Why Underground DARPA, and why now?
Underground warfare definitely sounds like the stuff of sci-fi. Military Times, the kind of publication that is certain to be up on this sort of activity, explains that underground warfare is going on right now, whether most people are aware of it or not.
Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are notorious for their complex subterranean facilities and are able to deploy thousands of troops, tanks, missiles, and even launch planes from underground runways.
It does seem strange for the Department of Defense, considering its power, assets, and clout, to be placing a call for underground tunnels… on Twitter. But then again, just about all of DARPA’s clandestine activities are pretty bizarre.