On June 25, 2021, just in time for Washington’s usual “when nobody’s looking” Friday information dumps, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its assessment of “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” or UAP (that’s government-speak for UFOs). The assessment was a disappointing 6 pages (not counting title page and appendices). It, nevertheless, had a few surprising revelations.
First, the study limited its scope to UAP reports between November 2004 and March 2021 from military aviators – mostly naval pilots – whom the ODNI considered reliable witnesses. Surprisingly, they found 144 such reports and only 1 of them they could explain (but added they could eliminate more sightings with more data). Eighty of these reports were supported by electronic sensors (i.e. radar, infrared), giving credence not just to the reports, but that the UAPs were real, solid objects (as opposed to illusions or storm clouds). And 18 of the UAPs demonstrated speeds or movements that could not be explained by existing technologies.
Perhaps more disquieting is that most of these sightings were around military installations or training and testing grounds. This is what we’d expect if the witnesses were military personnel. But is that the only reason? Eleven of these UAPs had near collisions with the military aircraft. Could they have been attacks? Warnings? Testing of the aircraft’s capabilities? The ODNI must have wondered that too. They warned that these UAPs were potential hazards to national security. Here are 10 reasons the government is now concerned.
10 The Los Alamos Green Balls of Light (December, 1948)
Sightings of UFOs stretch all the way back to antiquity, but these strange encounters increased exponentially during World War II, the most violent conflict in human history. Sightings were so common, U.S. aviators began to call them “Foo Fighters.” Coined by Donald Meiers, a radar operator for the 415th Night Fighter Squadron, Foo Fighters described mysterious glowing objects seen in the skies over Europe during missions. There are several accounts of Foo Fighters following or shadowing military aircraft for several minutes before peeling away, changing direction and speed on a dime. The fear was that Hitler had developed a superweapon, but aviation historians have since denied that possibility. The Nazis had neither aircraft nor rockets advanced enough for such maneuvers. Nor are there any known instances of these UFOs engaging these aircraft in combat, something the Nazis would definitely do. So what would be the purpose of shadowing and observing aircraft on combat missions?
Perhaps more disconcerting was the appearance of these lights after the war around the top secret Los Alamos and Sandia atomic weapons laboratories in New Mexico where the world’s first atomic bomb was assembled and tested. By 1948, the labs – specifically Los Alamos—were developing the thermonuclear or hydrogen bomb that was 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb. For nine days in December, 1948, green orbs of light – sometimes called balls of fire – flew above or near the labs. On December 5th , one of the orbs played chicken with an aircraft, forcing the pilot to veer off at the last second. On December 20th, a green orb descended at 45 degrees, then abruptly leveled off – something a meteorite wouldn’t do. Nor did anyone find evidence a meteorite reached the ground. The government was so disconcerted that they sent an expert to investigate and he determined the lights were man-made, either secret U.S. “defensive devices” or Soviet spying apparatus. Another expert posited it was ball lightning, but ball lightning is so rare we know very little about it. What are the odds something so rare would happen in the same area on nine separate nights in the same month? The lights continued to visit the area until the early 1950’s.
9 The Washington D.C. Sightings (July, 1952)
If Washington was concerned about the green orbs over Los Alamos, imagine how they’d feel with UFOs whizzing over their heads. Shortly before midnight on July 19th, 1952, an air-traffic controller at Washington National Airport found 7 slow-moving unidentified objects on his radar. Two more controllers at National Airport reported an odd light in the distance that hovered, then zipped away. Controllers at Andrews Air Force Base also saw a cluster of blips on their radar, racing away at speeds exceeding 7,000 mph. A commercial pilot for Capital Airlines saw six streaking lights over Washington “like falling stars without tails.” He added: “In my years of flying I’ve seen a lot of falling stars… But these were much faster… They couldn’t have been aircraft.” Two F-94 jets were sent to investigate, but the lights disappeared. The lights reappeared a week later on July 26 and this time an F-94 acquired a visual on the lights. But his jet had a top speed of 640 mph and he never caught up to it.
The next day the press was screaming for answers. President Truman was demanding them. So the Air Force did the obvious thing: it lied. A press conference was called and the press was told it was a temperature inversion, which, they explained, happens when warm air traps cooler air low in the atmosphere and radar signals bounce off it, making ground objects appear to be flying. It’s fairly common in the muggy summer months in Washington D.C., so common that all the radar operators were familiar with it and insisted temperature inversions were not what they saw on radar. Nor would an F-94 pilot chase a temperature inversion. And yet the Air Force explanation worked: the public outcry fell to a whisper.
But in true government form, they assigned a group to study the phenomena (but were not interested in properly funding it). The U.S. government entity that put out the June 25, 2021, report was the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF). It was just the most recent entity in a long history of such entities. The first three were Project Sign (1948), Project Grudge (1949 – 1951) and Project Blue Book (1952 – 1969) all headed by the U.S. Air Force. The latter – Project Blue Book – was established in March 1952 and probably would have continued to investigate a handful of sightings a year if it weren’t for the April 7, 1952, issue of Life magazine. Just to the left of a sultry picture of Marilyn Monroe was the caption “There is a Case For Interplanetary Saucers.” UFOlogy was suddenly mainstream and Project Blue was inundated with UFO sightings, jumping from 23 in March to 148 in June. But after the Air Force’s temperature inversion theory was released, sightings to Project Blue Book dropped again, from 50 a day to 10. Years later when the relevant government papers were declassified, they showed that the administration wasn’t trying to cover-up secrets, unless you consider their inability to find their own butt inside their pants a secret.
8 Operation Mainbrace Sightings (September, 1952)
But 1952 wasn’t done yet. That September the U.S. and 7 other NATO nations along with New Zealand conducted a massive war-games exercise in the North Sea off Denmark and Norway. With 200 ships, 80,000 personnel, and 1,000 planes, Operation Mainbrace was the largest combined sea, land and air operation since World War II. Someone at the Pentagon joked that they should expect UFOs to show up as well. By the end of the 12 day operation, no one was laughing.
On the operation’s first day – September 13 – a Danish destroyer was just north of Borhnholm Island when Lieutenant Commander Schmidt Jensen and several fellow crewmembers observed a triangular bluish UFO as it flew by at a speed Jensen estimated to be 900 mph. A week later a British aircraft was landing at the Topcliffe airfield at Yorkshire, England, when air and ground crews observed a silver, disk-shaped object following it, swinging to and fro like a pendulum. When the aircraft circled the airfield, the object hovered, rotating on its axis. It then shot away at a speed greater than a shooting star.
On September 20, a metallic disk flew over Karup Field in Denmark at high speed. That same day the U.S. carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt was buzzed by a silver, spherical object that was photographed by reporter Wallace Litwin. His 4 photographs of what he described as a “white ping-pong ball” have never been released to the public. The next day, 6 British RAF pilots chased a shiny sphere, but could not catch it. On September 27 and 28, there were widespread UFO sightings in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. None of the sightings have been explained by anything other than the usual “it was a weather balloon.”
In his 1956 memoir The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, later to be the director of Project Blue Book, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt wrote he initially thought the governments “brush-offs” were meant to keep the public from panicking. Instead he found a combination of a lack of interest, disbelief and aversion to admitting wrong blocked his investigative efforts. Even in the face of mounting, compelling evidence, the government just wanted it to go away.
7 Malmstrom AFB UFO Incident (March, 1967)
Perhaps the most disquieting UFO incident on this list is not a single incident at all, but the first of a decades-long harassment of the personnel manning and maintaining the missile silos at Malmstrom Air Force Base in central Montana. On a crisp March morning in 1967, Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander (DMCCC) Robert Salas was 60 feet underground at the Oscar-Flight Launch Control Center (LCC) where he and his commander monitored and – if so ordered – launched 10 ICBM missiles, each with an 800 kiloton nuclear warhead. That’s when Salas got a bizarre call from his LCC’s head of security upstairs: they had a UFO just above the LLC, making strange zig-zag movements. Salas hung up, annoyed at what he perceived to be a joke. A few minutes later the security head called again. The UFO – an orange and red pulsating oval-shaped object—was now hovering at the front gate. Salas hung up and woke his sleeping commander just as all hell broke loose.
A Klaxon alarm sounded and on the control panel “A ‘No-Go’ light and two red security lights were lit indicating problems at one of our missile sites…Another alarm went off at another site, then another and another simultaneously. Within the next few seconds, we had lost six to eight missiles to a ‘No-Go’ (inoperable) condition,” Salas would later relate. Eventually all 10 missiles were inoperable, would not launch, would not respond to commands. Repair crews were quickly dispatched, but it took a full day for the missiles to be brought back online.
Just a week before, a similar event happened at the Echo-Flight LLC under the same command but 20 miles from Oscar-Flight. Security and maintenance personnel contacted the Echo-Flight LLC to tell them there were UFOs hovering over two missile silos. Shortly afterward, ‘No-Go’ alarms began to wail as their 10 missiles became inoperable. Echo-Flight’s missiles, too, were down for a day. A full-scale investigation of both incidents failed to find a cause and Boeing conducted laboratory tests. “There were no significant failures, engineering data or findings that would explain how ten missiles were knocked off alert,” wrote Boeing. “…there was no technical explanation that could explain the event.” They did theorize an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) might have caused the missiles to go off-line, but the equipment was shielded from an EMP up to a certain level. An EMP above that level required technology that didn’t exist in 1967.
Nor were these two incidents isolated. In November 1975, Malmstrom reported multiple disk or saucer-shaped UFOs with various colored lights hovered over the Weapons Storage Area where the nuclear warheads were kept. A pair of F-106s were dispatched but the lights disappeared. UFOs appeared again over Malmstrom in 1992, 1995 and 1996.
Nor was Malmstrom alone in these visitations. Between 1963 and 1996 there are dozens of UFO sightings over missile facilities or Weapons Storage Areas at Minot (North Dakota), Francis E. Warren (Wyoming), Ellsworth (South Dakota), Vandenburg (California), and Walker (New Mexico) Air Force Bases. UFOs were also reported at Wurtsmith (Michigan) and Loring (Maine) AFBs where B-52 nuclear bombers were stationed during the Cold War. At one of the Warren AFB silos, a missile’s targeting “tape” had been erased after a UFO hovered above it in the fall of 1973.
Perhaps one of the most well documented incidents also occurred over an ICBM site at Minot AFB on October 24, 1968. Sixteen Air Force personnel on the ground and 7 more in a B-52 overhead testified to seeing a large brilliantly lit object that changed colors from white to amber to green and at one point split into two objects. The government claimed it was a combination of two stars – Sirius and Vega – and some kind of plasma.
In September of 2010, a number of the Air Force officers who’d witnessed these UFO incursions gathered in Washington to highlight a scary pattern: UFOs are monitoring – and it some cases sabotaging—America’s nuclear arsenal. Where these UFOs malevolent or benevolent?
6 Cua Viet River Fire Fight (June, 1968)
The pattern of UFO interest in war continued after World War II. During the 3-year Korean War, there were dozens of UFO sightings, 42 of which were corroborated by secondary witnesses. One incident stands out. In May of 1951, American troops were at Chorwon, Korea, watching as artillery bombarded the enemy. Suddenly an orange-glowing object – like a “jack-o-lantern”—appeared atop a nearby mountain and quickly descended, flying without damage through the artillery bursts toward the American line. The UFO began pulsating a blue-green light. One private, Francis P. Wall, asked for and received permission to fire his M-1 rifle at the UFO and his bullets made metallic “dings” against the UFO’s hull. Its response was to attack. “We were… swept by some form of ray that was emitted in pulses, in waves that you could visually see only when it was aiming at you.” Wall remembered he experienced a tingling, burning throughout his body. The object hovered for a moment, then shot away at high speed. Three days later Wall’s entire company came down with dysentery and very high white-blood-cell count, similar to radiation poisoning.
Seventeen years later America was in another war, this time in Vietnam. Captain George Filer was an intelligence officer who daily briefed General George S. Brown, deputy commander of air operations in Vietnam. Frequently Filer’s briefings included UFO sightings and way too often they went from sightings to armed conflict.
Just after midnight on June 16, 1968, the patrol boat designated PCF-12 was on a routine night patrol on Cua Viet River not far from where it empties into the South China Sea, when it received a distress call from another patrol boat. PCF-19 said it was under attack from unidentified lights it called “enemy helicopters.” The North Vietnamese had a few Soviet MI-4 Hound helicopters at the time, but they were usually deployed along the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. Why would an attacking enemy helicopter have its lights on, making it easier for the Americans to hit it? PCF-12 was captained by Lieutenant Pete Snyder and as his swift boat approached PCF-19, he said he could see two bright lights with a “strange glow” hovering above PCF-19. One of the lights flashed brightly and PCF-19 exploded. The pair of lights then sped away. Two wounded survivors were picked up later by a Coast Guard Cutter and the survivors reported the pair of lights had stalked the PCF-19 for miles before the crew began firing at them. The lighted object then destroyed PCF-19.
PCF-12 motored up the Cua Viet River and encountered the pair of lights again. Snyder ordered his men to open fire, but the UFO was unphased. PCF-12 retreated as it fired, the object following. Eventually the lights were chased off by a pair F-4 Phantoms. This action so unnerved the American forces, it may have contributed to friendly fire the next night when F-4 Phantoms allegedly fired on the cruiser USS Boston and the Australian destroyer HMAS Hobart, killing two sailors and wounding 8. Extensive searches found no “enemy helicopter” wreckage anywhere in the area. Investigators determined that both incidents were the result of friendly fire, but, in the case of the destruction of PCF-19, no aircraft – friendly or enemy – were in the vicinity at the time. Interestingly, years later General George Brown admitted that the phrase “enemy helicopters” was a euphemism for UFOs. Is that what PCF-19 meant when they said they were under attack?
5 Campeche, Mexico sightings (March 5, 2004)
In the early evening of March 5, 2004, the Mexican Air Force was hunting drug smugglers along the east coast state of Campeche. The C-26A aircraft was flying at 11,500 feet when the crew turned on its infrared camera and noticed multiple bogeys – at one point 11 of them – on the monitor. ”We are not alone! This is so weird,” one crewmember can be heard saying. Since the camera only senses heat signatures, it doesn’t show the object’s exact outlines, its details or structure. The C-26A followed the blobs for a short time and some crewman claimed the objects actually surrounded their aircraft before breaking off.
When the Mexican air force released the video in May, it created quite a stir. Skeptics claimed the images were electrical flashes, ball lightning and even plasma sparks. A more plausible skeptical explanation was that the lights were flares from oil wells out in the Bay of Campeche. The area is the heart of Mexico’s petroleum industry with more than 200 wells in the bay, and they light flares on the tops of the rigs to burn off excess natural gas. UFOlogists proclaimed these images were far superior to the typical grainy pictures of UFOs the world was used to. Not really. It was cloudy, hot and humid that March 5, the images taken at sunset when temperatures were fluctuating, causing havoc not just with the human eye, but the infrared camera.
4 USS Nimitz Incident (November 14, 2004)
Just under two weeks before Thanksgiving, 2004, Carrier Strike Group 11 was training off the coast of southern California when the radar on the missile cruiser USS Princeton detected some 14 anomalous aerial vehicles (AAV) – yet another term for UFOs – uniformly spread out over 100 miles and was deemed a threat to the exercise. Two F/A-18F Super Hornet fighters from the carrier USS Nimitz – who had also picked up the AAVs on radar—were dispatched to the nearest object, guided by an E-2 Hawkeye airborne radar.
Once they had reached the intercept point, the F/A-18’s radar could not detect the AAV. Nor were they electronically jammed. That’s when the F/A-18 crews noticed a disturbance on the surface of the ocean below them, and flying just above the frothing disturbance was a white oblong object shaped like a “Tic-Tac” mint. Under its belly were what looked like two appendages. It was 40-50 feet long, 10-15 feet wide. There were no wings or engine heat or exhaust. It was moving erratically, instantaneously changing directions like, as one F/A-18 crewmember described, a ping pong ball bouncing off invisible walls. One of the F/A-18s descended to get a better look, but the object anticipated that and kept its distance. When the F/A-18 tried to intercept, the AAV shot away. The pilot, CDR David Favor, said: “And it takes off like nothing I’ve ever seen. It literally is one minute it’s there and the next minute it’s like -poof – and it’s gone.” Favor points out that an aircraft flying at Mach 3 will still be visible for 10-15 seconds. “This thing disappeared in a second, it was just gone.”
Shortly afterward the object returned and was videotaped. It was later determined that there was no submarine at the location of the water disturbance or any other known cause. From the video and radar information, it was calculated the object was moving 282,000 mph with a g-force of 12,823. No human could survive such g-forces, nor any aircraft survive the air friction at that speed. At that velocity there should have been noise when the object broke the sound barrier and the friction should have created a fireball. And yet the object was tracked by 3 highly sophisticated radar systems (from the Princeton, Nimitz and the E-2 Hawkeye) at different radar frequencies supporting the contention that this was a physical object and not a weather phenomena such as temperature inversion.
Shortly after the incident, the recordings of the radar, ship logs and other electronic proof was confiscated and it wasn’t until 2017 when a small portion of the evidence was declassified and released to the public. A careful analysis came to the conclusion that the “Tic-Tac” was not an “aircraft of any known type,” had “no aerodynamic air-frame, no obvious means of reactive propulsion, [and had] acceleration characteristics beyond human endurance and air-frame structural capability.”
Mike West, a former video-game designer and UFO skeptic, said the “Tic-Tac” is simply glare on the camera lens. The movements it makes? Simply the sweeping motions of the camera as it tries to keep a visual lock on the “glare.” West also said it could be due to the parallax effect, where stationary objects appear to move when it is actually the viewer moving. The problem is that the video is supported by reliable eyewitnesses who saw it with their own eyeballs. David Fravor, one of the pilots who saw the “Tic-Tac,” said it was not an illusion, and not glare. “It’s funny how people can extrapolate stuff who’ve never operated the system,” he said. Even the Navy, who has every reason to accept West’s theory, say the images are real and simply characterize the “Tic-Tac” as “unidentified.”
3 USS Theodore Roosevelt Sightings (2015)
Along with the Nimitz footage, two other F/A-18 Super Hornet videos were declassified in 2017 and released to the public. Both were shot by the same pilot from the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt while training off the eastern coast from Virginia to Florida before deployment to the Persian Gulf. A total of 6 seasoned pilots and weapons system operators (WSO) experienced multiple encounters.
The first encounter was in the summer of 2014 when Lieutenant Danny Accoin and his WSO picked up a UFO on radar and Accoin positioned his F/A-18 1,000 feet below the object. He should have been able to spot it with his helmet camera thru his canopy, but was unable to. A few days later, Accoin again encountered the object. This time Accoin got a missile lock on the object, but still could not visually see it. Accoin thought these UFOs were advanced military drones, until another Roosevelt pilot had a near collision.
In late 2014, the Roosevelt was training off Virginia Beach and a pilot – who wished to remain anonymous – was flying with his wingman, 100 feet between them. Then something flew between them that looked like a sphere encased in a cube. It flew so close, an aviation flight safety report had to be filed. If these UFOs were drones operated by the military, Accoin reasoned, they wouldn’t have endangered the pilots with a near-collision. “It turned from a potentially classified drone program to safety issue,” Lieutenant Ryan Graves said.
Then in 2015, the so-called “go-fast” and “gimbal” videos were taken. The objects have “no distinct wing, no distinct tail, no distinct exhaust plume,” Accoin said of the videos. It also shows the UFOs accelerating to hypersonic speed, making abrupt stops and instantaneous turns, something a human wouldn’t survive. “Speed doesn’t kill you,” Lieutenant Graves said. “Stopping does. Or acceleration.”
2 USS Russell’s Pyramid UFO (July 15, 2019)
In July, 2019, the Navy held military exercises in restricted waters off the San Diego coastline. Beginning July 14, at least three ships were harassed by – what is described in their logs – as “drones.” Often there were multiple unidentified objects and in one case a “white light” paced the speed and direction of a destroyer – the USS Rafael Peralta—and performed “brazen” maneuvers for 90 minutes, far beyond the flight duration of most drones. On July 15, three pyramid-shaped UFOs trailed the destroyer USS Russell at 700 feet. The ship’s log described the “drones” changing elevation and moving erratically in all directions. The Pentagon confirmed that an anonymous sailor on the Russell filmed the UFO using night-vision goggles, and said they have verified the video’s authenticity.
This video was part of a classified briefing the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) had on May 1, 2020 in an effort to “destigmatize” the reporting of these incidents and encourage the military to relate their experiences without the fear of ruining their careers or reputations. It was acknowledged that something is going on, and uncovering what it is will not happen with denials and secrecy. As remarkable as that announcement is, what came out of the Pentagon was shocking.
Luis Elizondo is a former U.S. Counterintelligence Special Agent and worked for nine years in the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD[I]). While at USD(I) , Elizondo headed the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) that, from 2007 to 2012, studied UFO experiences. Even after funding lapsed in 2012, Elizondo said AATIP continued, funded by the military. Elizondo said that by 2017, AATIP had collected compelling evidence that UFOs posed a significant threat to national security. But he was frustrated by continued government secrecy and resigned. He has since been instrumental in releasing the Nimitz, Roosevelt and Russell videos to the public.
Elizondo also released the remarkable news that the Pentagon has three theories about what these UFOs are. The first is that the UFOs are U.S. military or civilian technology the Pentagon is unaware of, something Elizondo considers “highly unlikely.” The second is that the UFOs are “foreign adversarial” tech that the Pentagon is also unaware of. “This would be a huge intelligence failure of [the United States] because we’ve been technologically leapfrogged,” Elizondo said. He summarized the third theory: “If it’s not ours and it’s not [another country] well, then it’s someone or something else.”
1 USS Omaha’s Trans Medium UFO (July 15, 2019)
On the same night (July 15) the USS Russell was swarmed by UFOs, another ship – the littoral combat ship USS Omaha – videoed a UFO doing something not often witnessed: it traveled thru the sky and the water. Called a trans medium UFO, it further distanced itself from existing human technology. At approximately 11 p.m. a dark blob appeared near the Omaha. The radar plot said the object was spherical, measuring 6 feet (2 meters) in diameter, and traveling at speeds as much as 158 mph (254 km/h). A crewmember began to film the object displayed on a monitor in the Omaha’s Command Information Center (CIC) and the clip clearly has multiple edits. It stayed in place for nearly an hour before splashing into the water. A submarine investigated soon afterward and neither the object or wreckage was found.
The Omaha video was released with the Russell video at the same May 1, 2020, ONI briefing and the Pentagon has confirmed that the Omaha footage is authentic, that it was filmed by naval personnel and that it, along with the Nimitz, Roosevelt and Russell videos were among the 144 UFO sightings it investigated for the June 25, 2021 report.
From all of this, Luis Elizondo has identified five “unique” technological characteristics these UFOs have that are not evident in existing human technology: they have the tech for instantaneous acceleration, hypersonic speeds (greater than 3,000 mph or Mach 5), low visibility (they easily disappear and reappear), trans medium travel (thru space, atmosphere and water), and positive lift (can fly without wings, ailerons, rudders, or even engine exhausts). For the intelligence community to be unaware a foreign power had “leapfrogged” in developing any one of these characteristics would be unlikely. For the intelligence community to be unaware a foreign power developed all five characteristics would be incomprehensible. “We are seeing these — let’s call them vehicles, if you will — that are incurring [incursions?] into controlled U.S. airspace that are displaying performance characteristics that are frankly well beyond anything we can either replicate or in some cases really even understand,” Elizondo said. And for UFOs to have been displaying these technological advancements as far back as World War II? It stretched believability.
So where does that leave us? Cue “Twilight Zone” theme song.
About The Author: Steve is the New York Times Bestselling author of “366 Days in Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency” and a frequent contributor to Listverse.