Pentagon UFO videos
The Pentagon UFO videos are selected visual recordings of cockpit instrumentation displays from United States Navy fighter jets based aboard aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2004, 2014 and 2015. The three videos, widely characterized as officially documenting UFOs, were the subject of extensive coverage in mainstream media in 2017, and later declassified by the Pentagon in 2020. Publicity surrounding the videos has prompted a number of explanations, including drones or unidentified terrestrial aircraft, anomalous or artefactual instrument readings, physical observational phenomena (e.g., parallax), human observational and interpretive error, and speculations of alien spacecraft.
In 2004, F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter pilots and sensor instrumentation associated with the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group reported instrument detection of unknown aerial objects. According to Navy pilot David Fravor, a radar operator aboard the USS Princeton told him to investigate radar indications of a target at 80,000 feet (24,000 m) that had apparently moved rapidly down to the sea before stopping at 20,000 feet (6,100 m). Fravor said the operator told him he had been tracking similar radar indications for the past two weeks. During 2014–2015, fighter pilots associated with the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group reported instrument detections of unknown aerial objects which the pilots were unable to identify. These detections, along with pilot observations, were later reported in the mainstream media. Some of the involved pilots subsequently gave interviews about their experiences.
The resulting three videos, termed “GIMBAL.wmv,” “GOFAST.wmv,” and “FLIR.mp4,” purporting to show encounters by jets from Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt with unusually shaped, fast-moving aircraft, became subject to "fevered speculation by UFO investigators." Stories published by the New York Times that featured the videos have been criticized by journalism professor Keith Kloor as "a curious narrative that appears to be driven by thinly-sourced and slanted reporting." According to Kloor, "Cursory attention has been given to the most likely, prosaic explanations. Instead, the coverage has, for the most part, taken a quizzical, mysterious frame that plays off the catchy “UFO” tag in the headline."
The videos, featuring cockpit display data and infrared imagery, were initially provided to the press by Luis Elizondo, a former employee of the Department of Defense working with To the Stars on UFO-related matters. The videos were later declassified and publicly released in 2020 by the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokeswoman confirmed that the released videos were made by naval aviators and that they are "part of a larger issue of an increased number of training range incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena in recent years."
As of 2020, the aerial phenomena recorded from the Nimitz and Roosevelt events are characterized by the US Department of Defense as "unidentified". Widespread media attention to these events has motivated theories and speculations from private individuals and groups about the underlying explanation(s), including those focused upon pseudoscience topics such as ufology. Regarding the pseudoscientific explanations, writer Matthew Gault stated that these events "reflect the same pattern that's played out dozens of times before. Someone sees something strange in the sky...and the public jumps to an illogical conclusion."
Mundane, non-pseudoscientific explanations include instrument or software malfunction/anomaly/artifact, human observational illusion (e.g., parallax) or interpretive error, or common aircraft (e.g., a passenger airliner) or aerial device (e.g., weather balloon), with the science writer Mick West stating that the reported objects in these incidents are "most likely...a relatively slow-moving object like a bird or a balloon," and that "the jet filming it is moving fast, so this creates an illusion of speed against the ocean." West stated that the GIMBAL video can be explained as footage of a distant plane with the apparent rotation actually being the glare in the IR camera rotating.
Following the congressional hearings and in order to encourage pilots to flag disturbances that "have been occurring regularly since 2014," the US Navy announced it had updated the way pilots were to formally report unexplained aerial observations. Commenting on these updated guidelines, a spokesman for the deputy Chief of Naval Operations said, "The intent of the message to the fleet is to provide updated guidance on reporting procedures for suspected intrusions into our airspace." Regarding the new guidelines, the spokesman said that one possible explanation for the increase in reported intrusions could be the rise in availability of unmanned aerial systems such as quadrocopters.
Retired Admiral Gary Roughead, who commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets before serving as Chief of Naval Operations from 2007 to 2011, said in 2020 that in his time, "most of the assessments were inconclusive" as to what these videos showed. In the context of a lecture on China's 21st century military strategy, Roughead commented that development of unmanned autonomous aircraft that had the capability to be used as submersible military assets was a priority of the US, as well as other nations such as China and Russia.
In popular culture
- The videos were featured in Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation, a 2019 History Channel series executive produced by Tom DeLonge.
- Gault, Matthew (2020-05-06). "The Skeptic's Guide to the Pentagon's UFO Videos". Vice. Vice Media LLC.
- Cooper, Helene; Kean, Leslie; Blumenthal, Ralph (2017-12-16). "2 Navy Airmen and an Object That 'Accelerated Like Nothing I've Ever Seen'". The New York Times Co. Retrieved 2020-05-14.
- Bender, Bryan (December 16, 2017). "The Pentagon's Secret Search for UFOs". Politico. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
- Mellon, Christopher (March 9, 2018). "The military keeps encountering UFOs. Why doesn't the Pentagon care?". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
- Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (2019-05-26). "'Wow, What Is That?' Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
- McMillan, Tim (2020-01-17). "The Tale of the Tape: The Long, Bizarre Saga of the Navy's UFO Video". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
- Phelan, Matthew (19 December 2019). "Navy Pilot Who Filmed the 'Tic Tac' UFO Speaks: 'It Wasn't Behaving by the Normal Laws of Physics'". New York Magazine. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
- "There I Was: The X-Files Edition". SOFREP. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
- Eghigian, Greg. "The Year of UFOs". airspacemag.com. Air & Space Magazine, February 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- Kloor, Keith. "Will The New York Times Ever Stop Reporting on UFOs?". wired.com. Wired. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "Statement by the Department of Defense on the Release of Historical Na". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
- Epstein, Kayla. "Those UFO videos are real, the Navy says, but please stop saying 'UFO'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
- "Navy Confirms Existence of 'Unidentified' Flying Objects Seen in Leaked Footage". Time. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
- "Yep, those are UFOs, Navy says about 3 videos of strange sightings". NBC News. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
- Taylor, Derrick Bryson (2019-09-26). "How Blink-182's Tom DeLonge Became a U.F.O. Researcher". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
- Bender, Bryan. "U.S. Navy drafting new guidelines for reporting UFOs". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-03-26.
- Bender, Bryan (2019-06-19). "Senators get classified briefing on UFO sightings". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
- "Congress receive classified briefing on 'UFO encounters with US navy'". The Independent. 2019-06-20. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
- McMillan, Tim (2020-02-14). "Inside the Pentagon's Secret UFO Program". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
- Kooser, Amanda (2020-04-27). "The Pentagon releases three classified 'UFO' videos filmed by US Navy". cnet. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
- Kooser, Amanda (2018-03-14). "UFO caught on video? Skeptics weigh in on weird footage". cnet. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
- April 2020, Mindy Weisberger 28. "'UFO' videos declassified by US Navy". Space.com. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
- Kreidler, Marc (2018-05-01). "Navy Pilot's 2004 UFO: A Comedy of Errors | Skeptical Inquirer". Retrieved 2020-02-15.
- Plait, Phil (2020-05-01). "So, those Navy videos showing UFOs? I'm not saying it's not aliens, but it's not aliens". SYFY Wirs. SYFY. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
- Lincoln, Don (June 21, 2019). "Why pilots are seeing UFOs". CNN. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
- Overbye, Dennis (December 29, 2017). "U.F.O.s: Is This All There Is?". The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
- "Marco Rubio Hopes UFOs Are Aliens, Not Chinese Planes". vice.com. 20 July 2020.
- Cox, Billy (2020-01-15). "Former Navy Admiral Says UFO Analyses 'Inconclusive'". Sarasota Herald-Tribune, on Military.com. Retrieved 2020-08-20.
- Statement by the Department of Defense on the Release of Historical Navy Videos, April 27, 2020
- US Naval Air Systems Command FOIA Reading Room (containing FLIR.mp4, GOFAST.wmv, and Gimbal.wmv videos)