This article originally appeared on VICE US
In official statements, the US Navy has for the first time officially stated that the three UFO videos made public by former Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge’s UFO research organization are footage of real “unknown” objects violating American airspace.
Navy spokesperson Joseph Gradisher told Motherboard that “the Navy considers the phenomena contained/depicted in those 3 videos as unidentified.” Previously, the Navy never addressed the content of the videos. The terminology here is important: The UFO community is increasingly using the terminology “unidentified aerial phenomena” to discuss unknown objects in the sky.
John Greenwald, author and curator of The Black Vault, the largest civilian archive of declassified government documents, originally reported the news. Greenwald requested information in August from the Navy regarding the content of the three popular videos purporting to show anomalous aerial objects.
In 2017 and 2018, three videos taken by Navy pilots from their aircraft made national news. In December 2017, The New York Times ran a story about Navy pilots who intercepted a strange object off the coast of San Diego on November 14th, 2004, and managed to shoot video of the object with their F-18’s gun camera. Another video, which we now know the date of due to Greenwald’s request for information, was taken on January 21st, 2015, shows another anomalous aerial vehicle rotating as pilots comment on how strange the object is over their communication system. Months later, DeLonge, through his organization, To the Stars Academy, released a third video showing an object quickly fly over the surface of the water. That video was also recorded on January 21st, 2015 raising speculation that the two videos shot that day show the same object.
“I very much expected that when the U.S. military addressed the videos, they would coincide with language we see on official documents that have now been released, and they would label them as ‘drones’ or ‘balloons,’” Greenwald told Motherboard. “However, they did not. They went on the record stating the ‘phenomena’ depicted in those videos, is ‘unidentified.’ That really made me surprised, intrigued, excited and motivated to push harder for the truth.”
Roger Glassel, a writer for the Swedish magazine “UFO-Aktuellt” and an expert who specializes in Freedom of Information Act Requests also said it was notable that the Navy is using this new terminology.
“That the Navy is using the term ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena’ shows that they have broadened what is expected to be reported by U.S. fighter pilots to investigate anything unknown in their airspace that in the past has been connected with a stigma,” Glassel told Motherboard. “If these investigations are due to an interest in finding the cause of the UFO phenomenon—in a ufology sense—or due to reducing flight hazards or to counter unidentified intrusions by known adversaries, and readiness for technological surprise, remains to be seen.”
Earlier this year, the US Navy officially changed its policy to make it easier for its personnel to report sightings of anomalous aerial vehicles due to the number of reports of “unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled training ranges and designated airspace,” Gradisher told Motherboard. “The Navy and USAF [United States Air Force] take these reports very seriously and investigate each and every report.”
Gradisher said that the safety of military personnel and the public are a top priority, and due to the number of reported UAP incidents, the Navy is taking the matter seriously. However, it has no intention to release any of this information to the public.
“The information obtained from each individual report of any suspected training range incursion will be investigated in its own right. The information obtained in these reports will be catalogued and analyzed for the purpose of identifying any hazard to our aviators,” Gradisher said. “Any report generated as a result of these investigations will, by necessity, include classified information on military operations. Therefore, no release of information to the general public is expected.”
Luis Elizondo, a former Pentagon counter-intelligence agent who retired and went public regarding a secretive UFO/UAP hunting program, has long stated that these objects were truly anomalous.
“A military's primary objective is to protect its national borders and it's people. Any time, any military can’t address a potential threat, it should be a concern for both its citizens and those entrusted to protect them,” Elizondo told Motherboard. “However, I am heartened by the Navy's new position to address this issue in a serious manner and without the distraction of the social stigma that this phenomena seems to attract.”
With this official statement, the Navy takes an unprecedented and dramatic shift from the US government’s long held company-line that there’s nothing to the whole UFO phenomenon. Even going back to the Air Force’s official investigations into UFOs, which ran under several different program names from 1948–1970, never before has a branch of the American military pointed to a picture or video of an object and stated—this is a true unknown or unidentified aerial object.
UFOlogists have speculated that the object shown in the “FLIR1” video was captured near a little known and secretive Naval facility, The San Clemente Island Range Complex. San Clemente Island is host to a number of classified tenants, including the Navy’s principal research, development, and evaluation center for manned and unmanned submersibles and aerial vehicles and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR). Roughly 50 nautical miles northwest of San Clemente Island is San Nicolas Island, another closely guarded Navy complex. San Nicolas Island has discreetly served as the Navy’s premier test site for state-of-the-art weapons systems. With multiple large golf-ball shaped telemetry antennas dotting the landscape, Navy personnel monitor and control the surrounding 36,000 square miles of air and ocean around San Nicolas Island.
Accounts of the Navy’s 2014 and 2015 UFO events have been a little more ambiguous. Based on limited eyewitness reports, it’s speculated that the two videos from 2015, known as “Gimbal” and “Go Fast” were captured while the Roosevelt Carrier group was operating in the Jacksonville Training Complex, off the Florida/Georgia coast. In this location, Carrier Strike Group-12 would have been in the purview of the Naval nuclear submarine base King’s Bay. Roughly 300 miles south of the flotilla, is the Navy’s Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC). According to the Navy, making use of a multitude of in-air and deep-water tracking systems, AUTEC, is capable of monitoring and controlling upwards of 500 nautical miles and a height of 70,000 feet around the facility.
These unidentified objects may have been tracked by one, likely all, of these highly sophisticated nearby military facilities. But when asked about the 2015 incidents, Ron Flanders, a Navy spokesperson, said, “We have checked the records, and despite the public reporting (and video) on the incident, no records exist at FACSFAC [Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility] for the event(s) in question.”
Author and blogger Jack Brewer, a prominent voice in UFO circles, says that ufologists need to be cautious about the Navy’s new statements.
“I think it’s important not to read more into statements, such as the one pertaining to UAP, than is actually said. It is important that we prioritize data available for public review, as compared to statements and implications,” he said.
It’s likely many UFO enthusiasts consider the Navy’s latest stance as confirmation for what they’ve believed all along. According to the Navy, UFOs are real, and that question is no longer up for debate. The evidence that these unidentified objects are otherworldly or extraterrestrial though is still very much the realm of speculation.
The only conclusion we can draw is that if the most advanced and powerful military on the planet bumps into objects in its own airspace that it cannot identify, everyone should be a little worried.