The idea that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can impact your brain function is not new, but a recently launched investigation by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) really highlights the reality of such concerns.
The program,1 “Impact of Electro-Magnetics on Aircrew Neurology,” or ICEMAN, seeks to determine whether EMFs inside the cockpit may be causing pilots to crash. DARPA is currently accepting proposals and have allocated a budget of up to $225,000 for the research.
According to DARPA, the objective of the ICEMAN program is to “Determine if the current air combat cockpit environment impacts cognitive performance and/or physiological sensor performance; quantify the effects; and demonstrate potential mitigation strategies.”2
Is Pilot EMF Exposure Causing Aviation Crashes?
As noted by DARPA,3 fighter pilots operate in a very high-EMF environment these days, and it’s possible those EMFs may be causing pilots to become disoriented and confused, leading to plane crashes.4 Over the past few years, there’s been a rather extraordinary string of military jet and helicopter crashes.
Back in 2018, following a series of three aviation crashes that killed five service members over the course of two days, the director of the Pentagon’s joint staff tried to downplay the trend, rejecting questions suggesting military aviation was in a crisis, stating:5
“We’re are going to look at each one in turn. Each one is tragic. We regret each one. We will look at them carefully. I am certainly not prepared to say that it’s a ‘wave’ of mishaps or some form of ‘crisis.’”
In 2017, 37 service members died in noncombat crashes. By April 2018, there had already been five noncombat aviation crashes that year, killing nine service members. In December 2018, six Marines died during a refueling crash off the coast of Japan.6 The pilot, who died, was accused of losing situational awareness and causing the crash due to atypical maneuvering.