by WorldTribune Staff, June 5, 2019
The U.S. Navy this year sent out new classified guidance for how its pilots report what the Pentagon calls “unexplained aerial phenomena,” or unidentified flying objects.
The new guidance was an update of instructions that went out to the fleet in 2015 after pilots participating in training maneuvers off of the USS Theodore Roosevelt reported objects they said had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds, Navy spokesman Joseph Gradisher said, according to a New York Times report.
“There were a number of different reports,” Gradisher said, adding that some cases could have been commercial drones, but in other cases “we don’t know who’s doing this, we don’t have enough data to track this. So the intent of the message to the fleet is to provide updated guidance on reporting procedures for suspected intrusions into our airspace.”
During the Obama administration, the Pentagon reportedly shut down an official program that investigated UFO sightings after decades of official secrecy on the subject.
Related: The military and UFOs: New policy seeks to bridge ‘gap in situational awareness’, May 21, 2019
Leon Golub, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the possibility of an extraterrestrial cause “is so unlikely that it competes with many other low-probability but more mundane explanations.” He added that “there are so many other possibilities — bugs in the code for the imaging and display systems, atmospheric effects and reflections, neurological overload from multiple inputs during high-speed flight.”
The pilots reported encountering the objects in the skies of the U.S. East coast almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.
“These things would be out there all day,” said Lieutenant Ryan Graves, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot who has been with the Navy for 10 years and who reported his sightings to the Pentagon and Congress.
“Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”
According to the New York Times report, in late 2014, a Super Hornet pilot had a near collision with one of the objects, and an official mishap report was filed. Some of the incidents were captured on video, including one taken by a plane’s camera in early 2015 that shows an object zooming over the ocean waves as pilots question what they are watching.
“Wow, what is that, man?” one exclaims. “Look at it fly!”
The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The program has also studied video that shows a whitish oval object described as a giant Tic Tac, about the size of a commercial plane, encountered by two Navy fighter jets off the coast of San Diego in 2004.
Graves told the New York Times that he still cannot explain what he saw. In the summer of 2014, he and Lieutenant Danny Accoin, another Super Hornet pilot, were part of a squadron, the VFA-11 “Red Rippers” out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., that was training for a deployment to the Persian Gulf.
The pilots said they began noticing the objects after their 1980s-era radar was upgraded to a more advanced system. As one fighter jet after another got the new radar, pilots began picking up the objects but ignoring what they thought were false radar tracks.
But Graves said the objects persisted, showing up at 30,000 feet, 20,000 feet, even sea level. Then pilots began seeing the objects.
What was strange, the pilots said, was that the video showed objects accelerating to hypersonic speed, making sudden stops and instantaneous turns — something beyond the physical limits of a human crew.
Asked what they thought the objects were, the pilots refused to speculate.