Update, March 12, 2018: To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, the private UFO research company, has released a third video of a military jet's encounter with an object moving at extremely high speed over the ocean. According to To the Stars, "This footage was captured by a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet… that was being operated by a highly trained aerial observer and weapons system operator whom the government has spent millions of dollars to train." In the video, a pilot can be heard marveling at the object and asking, "What the [expletive] is that thing?" and "What is that, man?" The encounter occurred in 2015 somewhere off the East Coast.
Previously, December 18, 2017: Over the weekend, the New York Times and Politico unveiled the existence of a secret $22 million Pentagon program to research unidentified flying objects, or "unidentified aerial phenomena" in military parlance, between 2007 and 2012. The program, known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, looked into incidents in which military personnel witnessed mysterious aircraft with unusual behavior — some of which were captured on video.
Though the Pentagon's project is officially over, officials reportedly continue to investigate UFO sightings. What's more, the former head of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program has now joined a private UFO research company called To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, which has released two military videos showing unexplained aircraft. Here's what we know.
The Former Head Of The Pentagon's Secret UFO Program Pushed To Publicize Footage Of Mysterious Crafts
Luis Elizondo, who ran the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, resigned in October to protest the secrecy surrounding the Pentagon's UFO research and institutional resistance to supporting the research. Before he left, he pushed the Defense Department to release videos of three military sightings of unexplained aircraft.
Just before leaving his Defense Department job two months ago, intelligence officer Luis Elizondo quietly arranged to secure the release of three of the most unusual videos in the Pentagon's secret vaults: raw footage from encounters between fighter jets and "anomalous aerial vehicles" — military jargon for UFOs.
The videos, all taken from cockpit cameras, show pilots struggling to lock their radars on oval-shaped vessels that, on screen, look vaguely like giant flying Tic Tacs. The strange aircraft — no claims are made about their possible origins or makeup — appear to hover briefly before sprinting away at speeds that elicit gasps and shouts from the pilots.
So far, two of the three videos have been publicized by To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, the private UFO-research firm that Elizondo now works for. But Elizondo told Politico that the three videos represent only a fraction of "scores" of similar sightings.
The "unidentified aerial phenomena" claimed to have been seen by pilots and other military personnel appeared vastly more advanced than those in American or foreign arsenals. In some cases they maneuvered so unusually and so fast that they seemed to defy the laws of physics, according to multiple sources directly involved in or briefed on the effort and a review of unclassified Defense Department and congressional documents…
He described scores of unexplained sightings by Navy pilots and other observers of aircraft with capabilities far beyond what is currently considered aerodynamically possible. The sightings, Elizondo told POLITICO, were often reported in the vicinity of nuclear facilities, either ships at sea or power plants. "We had never seen anything like it."
The 'Nimitz Incident' Involved A Mysterious Craft Hovering Over Churning Water Then Lurching Away
One of the videos that has been released was taken off the coast of San Diego in 2004 by two Navy fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz. In a detailed report of the Nimitz incident, the New York Times recounts how the pilots, Commander David Fravor and Lieutenant Commander Jim Slaight, received unexpected instructions from an operations officer on the USS Princeton, a Navy cruiser, regarding some mysterious objects.
For two weeks, the operator said, the Princeton had been tracking mysterious aircraft. The objects appeared suddenly at 80,000 feet, and then hurtled toward the sea, eventually stopping at 20,000 feet and hovering. Then they either dropped out of radar range or shot straight back up.
Fravor and Slaight approached the reported location of the mysterious craft, and they didn't see anything until they looked down toward the ocean.
It was calm that day, but the waves were breaking over something that was just below the surface. Whatever it was, it was big enough to cause the sea to churn.
Hovering 50 feet above the churn was an aircraft of some kind — whitish — that was around 40 feet long and oval in shape. The craft was jumping around erratically, staying over the wave disturbance but not moving in any specific direction, Commander Fravor said. The disturbance looked like frothy waves and foam, as if the water were boiling.
Commander Fravor began a circular descent to get a closer look, but as he got nearer the object began ascending toward him…
Commander Fravor abandoned his slow circular descent and headed straight for the object.
But then the object peeled away. "It accelerated like nothing I've ever seen," he said in the interview. He was, he said, "pretty weirded out."
At the instruction of the officer aboard the USS Princeton, Fravor and Slaight headed toward a meeting place (called a "cap point") 60 miles away. Then the Princeton officer radioed again to say that the mysterious object had somehow traveled to the meeting place at an unbelievable speed.
"Sir, you won't believe it," the radio operator said, "but that thing is at your cap point."
"We were at least 40 miles away, and in less than a minute this thing was already at our cap point," Commander Fravor, who has since retired from the Navy, said in the interview.
By the time the two fighter jets arrived at the rendezvous point, the object had disappeared…
Fravor told the Times that shortly after the incident, he told a colleague that the object "had no plumes, wings or rotors and outran our F-18s."
Chris Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence who is now involved with To the Stars, recently described the features that made the craft in the Nimitz incident so unusual.
At a recent press conference for To The Stars in Las Vegas, Mellon described one of the sightings reported by U.S. Navy pilots: "It is white, oblong, some 40 feet long and perhaps 12 feet thick … The pilots are astonished to see the object suddenly reorient itself toward the approaching F/A-18. In a series of discreet tumbling maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of physics, the object takes a position directly behind the approaching F/A-18. The pilots capture gun camera footage and infrared imagery of the object. They are outmatched by a technology they've never seen."
Here is To The Stars' video from the Nimitz incident, which is a little anticlimactic after the Times' report and Mellon's dramatic recap. To The Stars added some commentary and analysis to contextualize the fighter jet's heads-up display and blurry footage.
Video Of Another Incident Shows An Oblong Craft Traveling At High Speed And Rotating
The second video that has been released features a conversation between two Navy pilots trying to make sense of what they are seeing. The Pentagon hasn't disclosed when and where the video was shot.
The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. "There's a whole fleet of them," one exclaims.
Here is To the Stars' video of this incident.
The Military Contractor That Ran The Program Collected Unexplainable Alloys From UFOs
Bigelow Aerospace, the Nevada-based company that received most of the Pentagon funding for the UFO research project, reportedly collected mysterious alloys from UFOs that physically affected people who interacted with them.
Under Mr. [Robert] Bigelow's direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes…
"We're sort of in the position of what would happen if you gave Leonardo da Vinci a garage-door opener," said Harold E. Puthoff, an engineer who has conducted research on extrasensory perception for the C.I.A. and later worked as a contractor for the program. "First of all, he'd try to figure out what is this plastic stuff. He wouldn't know anything about the electromagnetic signals involved or its function."
The Program Broached Sci-Fi Concepts Like 'Warp Drives'
Documents from the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program state outright that some of the theories explaining the UFOs behavior verged into science fiction territory.
A 2009 Pentagon briefing summary of the program prepared by its director at the time asserted that "what was considered science fiction is now science fact," and that the United States was incapable of defending itself against some of the technologies discovered.
The revelation of the program could give a credibility boost to UFO theorists, who have long pointed to public accounts by military pilots and others describing phenomena that defy obvious explanation, and could fuel demands for increased transparency about the scope and findings of the Pentagon effort, which focused some of its inquiries into sci-fi sounding concepts like "wormholes" and "warp drives."
The Founder Of To The Stars Says These Revelations Are 'Only The Tip Of The Spear'
To the Stars founder Tom DeLonge, the former Blink-182 guitarist and vocalist, told the New York Daily News "there's a lot more shit coming" in terms of UFO research. He also said he hopes To the Stars will be able to "engineer the space-time metric," allowing people to travel across the globe near-instantaneously.
According to DeLonge, disclosures like Saturday's report are "only the tip of the spear," and further "confirmation" of extraterrestrial life will continue to trickle out…
"All the things (people have) heard about and seen are the first step of 20," DeLonge said. "There's a lot more s–t coming."