The Pentagon on April 27 released three declassified videos that show U.S. Navy pilots encountering unidentified flying objects, which it refers to as “unexplained aerial phenomena,” during training flights.
One of the videos was taken in November 2004 and the other two were taken in January 2015. All three have previously been acknowledged as real by the Navy.
Two of the videos have been circulating online after they were released without authorization in 2017 by The New York Times in an article explaining how the U.S. government ran a program for investigating reports of unidentified flying objects until 2012. The third video was also released in 2018 by the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science group, a media and private science organization.
The videos show what Navy pilots saw during training flights in 2004 and 2015 and are recorded with infrared cameras. The 2004 encounter occurred in the Pacific approximately 100 miles off the coast after a Navy cruiser requested aerial assistance following repeated encounters with unidentified aircraft. Another of the videos from 2015 shows one pilot referring to the unidentified object, which can be seen rotating on screen, as a drone. The pilot can be heard shouting: “Look at that thing, dude! It’s rotating!”
The Department of Defense (DOD) on Monday said it was releasing the videos “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”
“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” the statement said.
Following the publication of the New York Times story, the Pentagon confirmed the existence of its Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which ran from 2007 until 2012. A Pentagon spokesperson told CNN that the program was disbanded because “it was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.”
Luis Elizondo, the former head of the classified program, told CNN in 2017 that he personally believes “there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.”
“These aircraft—we’ll call them aircraft—are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the U.S. inventory nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of,” Elizondo told the publication.
Elizondo, who now serves as director of global security and special programs at To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, said that he resigned from the Defense Department in 2017 in protest over the secrecy surrounding the program and the internal opposition to funding it.