Rare, expensive materials, cutting-edge designs and top-secret prototypes are all hallmarks of the military industrial complex. It's how they produce all their beautiful toys: the stealth fighters, nuclear submarines and flying fortresses that are the cornerstone of our childhood fantasies and Michael Bay movies. But what happens when you get bored of your new toys? Why, you just toss them out into the middle of a field somewhere, here's a a countdown of 6 images you won't believe are real!!
6. The Mothball Fleet
There are thousands of government-owned ships sitting at anchor all around the United States right now. They're part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF), a collection of mothballed ships ostensibly for use in national emergencies or other times of crisis. But as the decades roll by, wars and disasters come and go, and still the ships just sit. Some are dismantled; some are abandoned until they rust and sink. And these fleets aren't hidden away in remote, top-secret locations, either: One of the biggest collections is the NDRF Ghost Fleet at Suisun Bay, California, only 30 miles northeast of San Francisco. Among that fleet is the battleship Iowa.
5. Abandoned Russian Submarine Base
Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Balaklava Submarine Base was one of the most well-kept secrets in the CCCP. It was high tech, strategically important and hardened to withstand a nuclear attack. But the last ship left port way back in 1995, leaving behind memories of a more tense and warlike time, a few cigarette butts, a crushed beer can or two and, oh yeah, a couple of nuclear SS-N-23 Skiff ballistic missiles that were forgotten in a rusting sub for years before the Russians ever noticed them.
4. Aircraft Boneyard
This is just outside the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Arizona. It's called the Boneyard, and it's where military aircraft go to die. The arid desert climate is perfect for mothballing aircraft with minimal damage to their components, so they can be cannibalized for scrap later. But these are junk planes, right? Surely nothing valuable is just sprawled out in the desert sun waiting for somebody to figure out what to do with it. Well, a closer look shows the profile of a number of recognizable aircraft, including B-52s (B-52H models cost upwards of $50 million each) and F-14 jets (of Top Gun fame, and each of which cost $38 million to produce). And there are hundreds upon hundreds of them.
3. Johnston Atoll
Johnston Atoll, an island located 750 miles west of Hawaii, was basically the Area 51 of the Pacific Ocean in its day. But everything has its uses, and a time when those uses end: In 2004, it was decommissioned and abandoned. What's the big deal? So we left the island and a bit of tarmac behind when we were finished, so what? So we built the whole damn thing -- island and all -- almost from scratch, that's what. This whole thing is artificial ... or at least most of it is. The island was enlarged so much as to be almost unrecognizable from its original form. Though the exact cost of the project is unknown (aquatic Area 51, remember?), a comparable project in scope and scale would be the Japanese Kansai Airport.
2. Missile Silos
That's a Titan 1 missile complex. One such complex consists of 16 underground buildings and several aboveground support structures sprawling over 57 acres in central Washington. The Titans were built at a cost of about $170 million (roughly $1.26 billion in 2011 dollars) apiece. The bases themselves were only operational for a span of about five years, but during that time they would have been able to keep 150 men alive for up to 30 days without any outside support in the event of a nuclear war. After they were made obsolete by new, portable missile-launching systems, all of the installations were decommissioned, and without regular maintenance, most of them completely rusted out or flooded due to ground water leakage.
1. Tank Graveyards
Towards the tail end of the Soviet conflict in Afghanistan, the Russian army was forced to leave in a hurry, abandoning tons of military hardware to rust away outside the Kabul airport. These particular tanks were abandoned hastily, out of desperation, but if you're thinking this is the military equivalent of you forgetting your cellphone -- all frantically patting down their pockets and realizing they forgot a whole fleet of armored death machines back there, then cursing themselves for it the whole way home -- you should know this is apparently standard practice. In 2010, it was discovered that the Russians left over 200 functional tanks unguarded for four months in a forest near the city of Yekaterinburg