If you are an Unidentified Flying Object and alien visitation or abduction fan, it’s manna from heaven.

Videos showing Navy pilots encountering mysterious spherical objects publicly emerged in 2017 and 2018.

The videos were made public due to New York Times reporting and the efforts by To The Stars Academy – a research, development and media center for cutting edge science and technology. The Academy released first official U.S. government evidence and an analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).

Up close and personal! Scene from Earth vs. the Flying Saucers circa 1956.
Credit: Columbia Pictures


One of the UAP videos was taken in November 2004; the other two were shot in January 2015 – all captured by Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets with pilots utilizing Forward-Looking Infrared, or FLIR technology – hardware that detects heat and creates images.

The three outed UAP videos are tagged “FLIR1,” “Gimbal,” and “GoFast.”

Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab



Task force

Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense announced creation of a task force to analyze and understand the “nature and origins” of UAPs. The Department of the Navy, under the cognizance of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, will lead the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force (UAPTF).

The mission of the UAPTF “is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security,” the DoD states.

So take that…all you disbelievers that Earth isn’t on the receiving end of UFOs skimming and shimmering through our skies.

GIMBAL/“Tic Tac”
Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

But before you set up greeting signs and start tossing out welcome mats, I asked some UFO specialists their views.

Cautiously optimistic

“The formation of a task force on UFOs is another welcome development in the recent renewed interest and attention to these reports by government agencies and political actors,” says Mark Rodeghier, President and Scientific Director of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies in Chicago, Illinois.

Rodeghier adds that without further details it is impossible to judge how well positioned the task force will be to seriously investigate reports, “but I remain cautiously optimistic for now.”

While Rodeghier understands the need for secrecy, “I would hope that as much information as possible is released to the public so we can all be informed on this potentially world-shattering subject,” he told Inside Outer Space.

Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Non-extraterrestrial reasons

“I have no doubt that military intelligence services around the world have always been interested in ‘UFO reports’ — whether or not a real ‘unexplainable’ phenomenon is  behind a few of them.”

That’s the view of Jim Oberg, noted space journalist, historian and a debunker of a slew of UFO sightings. He’s an admitted “life-long space nut” and professional “rocket scientist” that includes 20-plus years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s mission control in Houston, Texas.

There are a lot of non-extraterrestrial reasons why the Defense Department needs to be interested in “UFO reports,” Oberg suggests.

— First, identify and ameliorate instrumental ‘funnies’ in new sensory technology to make sure we don’t accidentally misinterpret [or overlook] future readings.

— Second, determine how detection “funnies” might be deliberately induced by hackers and real enemies, and what we can do to frustrate such efforts.

— Third, deliberately induce anomalous targets into the range of our own new detection/tracking technology to determine realistic reliability level of existing situational awareness systems.

— Fourth, test enemy detection systems with deliberate pokes to identify exploitatable weaknesses.

— Fifth, assess which reports from in or near potentially enemy nations are indicators of their classified military testing and operations that we need insight into.

— Sixth, at home and elsewhere in the world, determine which detections accidentally reveal highly classified operations of our own which might be revealed to enemy nations who are also looking for such indications, so as to improve our masking, misdirection, and stealthiness.

— Seventh, in so far as observations of UFO reports from adversary nations are indicators of leaked observable clues to military capabilities, do nothing to provoke such regimes from curtailing their own news media coverage of the “pseudo-UFOs.” Never announce how such, to-them innocent news items, can be exploited.

— Eighth, in so far as our own domestic UFO reports may be authentic indicators of classified military activities, purposefully create camouflage and masking reports to distract, confuse, or lull foreign observers and analysts.

Forward-Looking Infrared, or FLIR technology.
Credit: Raytheon Technologies

Observation and detection technologies

“Perceptive observers of the UFO scene over the last two thirds of a century have noted a tell-tale feature of the evolution of reports,” Oberg says, “their nature has been changing, keeping uncanny pace with the progress in human observation and detection technologies.”

Oberg adds that, year by year, the “old UFOs” fade away just before the advent of new technologies that would have unambiguously documented them come on line, to be replaced by a new flavor of “anomalies” that precisely match the limits of vision of new technologies.

Not open-ended and ongoing

“I don’t think this [the task force] is as significant as some people are suggesting,” says Robert Sheaffer, writer and UFO skeptic. “It’s just a response to all the publicity generated by ‘To The Stars’ leaking the three Navy infrared videos, which the Pentagon later released.”

In the military, a “Task Force” is something that is put together to deal with a specific situation or problem, Sheaffer says. It is expected to produce a report and recommendations concerning that issue, and is disbanded when its work is complete.

Project Blue Book looked into lights photographed in 1952 over a Coast Guard air station in Salem, Massachusetts.
Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

“So this is not something open-ended and ongoing, like Project Blue Book. It does not suggest an ongoing government interest in unidentified objects,” Sheaffer observes. Conducted by the United States Air Force, Project Blue Book appraised the UFO situation starting in 1952 and officially closing down in 1970.

Intruding into their sandbox

On aviation maps, “Military Operations Areas” (MOAs) are clearly designated, which civilian aircraft are generally supposed to avoid, Sheaffer points out.

Most of the recent Pentagon comments about “unidentified objects” mention “range incursions,” Sheaffer adds,  i.e. unknown objects that seem to be entering one of these MOAs.

“So it seems that the military is worried about unidentified objects that might be intruding into their sandbox. If unidentified objects turn up elsewhere, the military doesn’t care,” Sheaffer says. “The ‘Tic Tac’ and ‘Gimble’ videos appear to show distant jets, which are probably well outside the MOA, quite far away. The military is investigating out of an abundance of caution, and a sensitivity to criticism,” he concludes.

Temper expectations

Sarah Scoles is author of the newly published and engaging book, They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers (Pegasus Books).

“First, I’d say that the establishment of a task force to investigate and understand UAP makes sense and could, if done systematically and scientifically and transparently, provide data useful in interpreting pilots’ sightings,” Scoles told Inside Outer Space. And it also makes sense, she says, that the Department of Defense — whose job it is to, of course, protect the U.S. from threats — is undertaking this endeavor.

“However, I think those expecting big, exotic conclusions from the task force would do well to temper their expectations. If you look at what the official announcement actually says, it’s not quite as extraordinary as it might seem at first glance,” Scoles points out.

Boundary-crossing objects

Last week’s DoD release, Scoles adds, uses language similar to that of other, previous statements about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. A September 2019 statement from Joseph Gradisher, spokesman for the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare defining “UAP” reads, “The ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena’ terminology is used because it provides the basic descriptor for the sightings/observations of unauthorized/unidentified aircraft/objects entering/operating in the airspace of various military-controlled training ranges.”

Scoles adds that “UAP” technically could include aircraft or objects that are simply unauthorized, as well as aircraft or objects that cannot be immediately identified. “That means that, if a pilot sees something they cannot explain, but someone else explains it a few hours later, it could still fall under the definition of UAP.”

The task force press release uses very similar wording to talk about DoD interest.

“It very specifically states that the DoD is concerned with boundary-crossing by objects that are–right when an observer sees them—unidentified,” says Scoles. “It says nothing so specific about objects that remain forever unidentified and mysterious. It certainly says nothing nor implies anything about alien aircraft.”

But, like all things UFO, Scoles concludes, “vague and somewhat weaselly wording leaves enough room for people to interpret this latest development very differently.”

Video: The Pentagon has declassified three previously leaked top secret U.S. Navy videos that show “unexplained aerial phenomena.”

To view a UAP, go to:

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