August 20, 2013
Two unmanned aerial reconnaissance programs operated by the CIA during the Cold War may have anticipated the rise of military drones by a half-century, according to newly declassified government documents.
The two programs, known as AQUILINE and AXILLA, took shape during the early 1960s when mounting losses of U-2 spy planes convinced agency officials of the need for small, undetectable aircraft capable of conducting limited flyovers and bombing sorties.
The government files, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act to George Washington University’s National Security Archive, offered the first official acknowledgement of Area 51. But it’s what was happening there that is arguably more interesting.