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New technology from 'black world'

By Nick Easen for CNN

The "stealth" technology used by B-2 bombers is shrouded in secrecy.

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(CNN) -- What ground-breaking new technology is kept so secret by the authorities that even to comment on its existence would be to reveal too much?

Welcome to black world technology -- the discrepancy in the defense budgets no-one can explain, and the programs which politicians and officials have the right to deny even exist.

Yet it is big business, not just for those involved in developing the technology, but for the spin-offs that eventually come in the "white world" -- defense jargon for the real world.

"The computers that were secretly developed to go to the moon are now on your desktop," Nick Cook, aerospace consultant for Jane's Defence Weekly told CNN.

"It all ends up in the commercial world in some ways, but black world technology is hard to penetrate in terms of figures and types of programs," he said.

Boeing, the world's largest aircraft manufacturer says it is working on anti-gravity propulsion, which could revolutionize conventional aviation.

If the science underpinning the program can be made into reality, it will be the biggest thing to hit the aviation industry since the Wright Brothers.

"GRASP," or Gravity Research for Advanced Space Propulsion, was only recently reported in Jane's Defence Weekly, but the U.S. military may have had the technology for years.

The National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), based in Nevada, say that mysterious U.S. military craft using this kind of technology have been skirting the skies since the 1980s.

And NIDS is now calling for the military to unveil its secrets for commercial benefit.

Although no-one yet drives cars or flies commercial planes made from radar-avoiding, stealth bomber material, over the years there have been spin-offs that have had business applications.

Nowadays, phased-array antennae allow you to park your new car in small parking spaces with audio queues. This was once black technology.

But obtaining information about today's black technology applications is virtually impossible. In official circles, a black program may be classed as "deniable", which means people can refute that the government is developing or knows about its existence.

The U.S. has the largest black budget on the planet, but other countries -- notably Britain and France -- also have projects in this area.

Unlike other nations, which cover up any secret programs, the U.S. has a carefully-constructed, tightly-controlled and well-organized black technology expenditure program.

According to the U.S. Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) classified or black programs account for about $23.2 billion or 17 percent of the 2004 budget request for the Department of Defense.

Just over half of this request to the U.S. Senate is for research and development, and it is on the increase.

"During the Reagan administration it was the height of black technology spending, Clinton scaled back but it is deemed to rise again under Bush," says Cook.

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