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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Mellon

The UAP Report and the UAP Issue:

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

As the person who lobbied Congress to request the recently released UAP report, I have for the most part been thrilled by the results. It has validated the UAP threat, forced myriad stove-piped agencies to share information, and has garnered the attention of policymakers and the public. Furthermore, it did all this without a penny of appropriation funding. What has been disappointing, however, is much of the subsequent coverage and discussion of the issue.

What did the much-anticipated report conclude? Here are the key findings:

  • No evidence that UAPs are secret U.S. aircraft. Surely our government can account for its own aircraft programs when each is worth billions. We also have systemic processes to keep track of classified programs and even DoD “waived” special access programs. Any revolutionary new aircraft programs would cost a fortune and, by law, have to be briefed to a minimum of 8 members of Congress.

  • The report carefully states that “some” UAPs may be Russian or Chinese, although it plainly acknowledges there is no evidence of that. Notice the report says only “some.” Given that military sightings of these bizarre craft have been occurring since the 1940’s, it seems inconceivable the U.S., Russia, or China can account for the phenomenon in its entirety.

  • Advanced technology is the one topic in the report that feels like Project Blue Book or the Condon Report, where the raw data directly contradicts the report’s findings. Do we take the testimony of the Navy personnel involved in the Nimitz case and others seriously or not? The glaring disconnect on this issue emerges during almost every press interview of those privy to the classified briefings or classified report. As Mitt Romney said on CNN:

“They have a technology which is in a whole different sphere than anything we understand and frankly, China and Russia just aren’t there and neither are we…”

So, what was the media reaction? Their emphasis was: Not aliens! Did anyone really think the Administration was going to deliver the most profound and disruptive discovery of all time in an unclassified report to Congress prepared by a GS-15?

In my view, the UAP report’s findings strengthen the case for the alien hypothesis by undermining the main alternatives and providing examples of capabilities we cannot emulate or even understand – precisely what one would expect if any of these reports involve genuine alien technology. A fair headline might have been: “UAP Report Strengthens Alien Hypothesis.” Instead, the press reporting seemed to lean in the opposite direction as though there was surprise that the government did not conclude ET is visiting.

It has also been painful watching American TV and cable news shows grapple with the UAP issue. Time and again, we’ve seen distinguished scientists stating the obvious: That the videos I provided the NYT are not proof of alien life. Who claimed that the videos alone were proof of alien life? Certainly not those of us involved in providing them to the NYT and Washington Post. They might someday prove to be examples of alien technology, but certainly on their own they are not proof of ET. Yet many TV journalists and commentators get hung up over these videos as if they are the crux of the UAP issue. They aren’t. Media discussions of the videos then often degenerate into vague references to human and mechanical fallibility on the one hand, and equally vague, usually second-hand anecdotes of incredible UFO sightings on the other. Such exchanges are neither interesting nor illuminating.

I suggest we begin by recognizing that the immediate challenge is existential, not academic. It is first and foremost a matter of national security. There is nothing anyone is going to see through a telescope that helps to resolve the issue and the best tools we have available to find answers are, right now, mostly in the hands of the national security community.

Aliens or not, we urgently need to know is who is operating these mysterious and highly advanced vehicles in restricted airspace above American test ranges, carrier strike groups, military bases, and nuclear weapons facilities. We need to determine not only why, but how they are doing it, because some of the capabilities we are observing suggest revolutionary scientific insights and engineering capabilities that place America at a potentially huge strategic disadvantage. However, because the unclassified report carefully averted forthright discussion of the technology gap, the press seemed to have missed this crucial point. This is perhaps mostly because unlike members of Congress and the IC they do not have access to the classified data. However, the truth is revealed every time a legislator or former intelligence official privy to the classified data comments on the issue. The authors of the report shaded the wording on this issue but there is no mistaking the result if you speak to knowledgeable DoD officials or listen carefully to those who have reviewed the data.

Incidentally, the press and public should know that these incidents are occurring far more often than the report suggests. Remember, the report does not include hundreds of thousands of civilian incidents or those by foreign nations; it does not list the thousands of reports that occurred between WW2 and 2004 (e.g., over 700 unsolved Blue Book cases); and of course, it cannot account for the incidents that were never reported due to the stigma surrounding the topic. Polling data suggests there are roughly ten UAP sightings for each sighting reported.

Other sightings were not included because of excessive classification, bureaucratic resistance (e.g., the USAF), or lack of resources. For example, no effort was made to search our huge ballistic missile radar databases for objects that did not match the profile of known targets and therefore were recorded by a computer but not displayed to personnel at NORAD warning centers. There is also a subjective component that caused hundreds or thousands of UAP cases to be excluded. For example, even though NORAD successfully identifies more than 99% of the millions of flights over North America visible to radar, there are still hundreds of unresolved NORAD UAP cases each year. Since only 144 cases were identified by the UAP TF since 2004, it is evident that few if any of these NORAD unknowns were included. Hundreds of documented commercial airline pilot sightings were also not included. Still, despite all this filtering, 144 military UAP incidents were reported and only one case solved since 2004. Incidentally, eighty of the 144 cases were confirmed by at least two sensors (e.g., radar and visual reporting).

To move beyond speculation and generalization toward a meaningful dialogue, I suggest greater consideration of specific cases. Doing so forces us to confront the reality of the phenomenon, which often seems unappreciated by those offering opinions on the issue. So, let’s briefly review a single well-documented case: the Nimitz incident of November 14, 2004.

[Note: those already familiar with the details of the Nimitz case may want to skip this section. Those seeking a more detailed technical analysis should consult the 278-page report prepared by the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies.]

The Nimitz Case:

In November 2004, the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group was conducting exercises 40 miles off the coast of San Diego. It was accompanied by the USS Princeton, an Aegis class guided missile cruiser sporting the world’s most capable naval radar. Shortly after deploying, the Princeton’s radar operators began observing numerous aircraft lacking transponders that were on occasion performing astounding feats; for example, vertically descending from 80,000 ft to 20,000 ft in a fraction of a second only to stop and hover. These objects continued to operate in significant numbers, occasionally hovering or flying at speeds many times faster than the speed of sound. Concerned that these might be technical glitches the crew tested and rebooted the Princeton’s radar system. Everything seemed to be in perfect working order.

Days later, on November 14, one of these strange objects was observed moving up the coast of Mexico toward San Diego. At the time two F-18 fighters already aloft were within range and were directed to intercept the unknown aircraft. When they did, they observed a wingless white object nearly 50ft long close to the surface bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball striking invisible walls. Below it the ocean roiled as though there was something just beneath the surface. When Squadron Commander Dave Fravor, a veteran combat pilot, descended to get a better look, the vehicle turned towards him, then began ascending in a spiral, maintaining its distance from the fighter. Under conditions of near-perfect visibility, Cmdr. Fravor and his colleagues saw a smooth featureless white object with no air intake, exhaust, tail or wings yet from the outset the aviators immediately felt outmatched. When Cmdr. Fravor tried to close on the strange craft it shot away like a bullet from a gun, a baffling feat for many reasons, including the energy required and what should have been g-forces far in excess of anything any known aircraft can withstand. The astonishing acceleration observed by Cmdr. Fravor was also observed aboard the Princeton due to the capabilities of its advanced phased array radar system.

Then, even more incredibly, the Princeton radioed Cmdr. Fravor to inform him that the Tic Tac shaped object had flown directly to the location the fighter squadron had chosen as a rendezvous (CAP) point for their training exercises. The white UAP was either reading the fleets encrypted communications or it had observed them at that location earlier in the day.

Low on fuel, both F-18s returned to the Nimitz, but a third F-18 was launched to investigate. At a range of 20 miles Chad Underwood, the Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) in the F-18, was able to see the object on his radar and with his infrared targeting pod (a highly sophisticated sensor designed to lock onto evasive targets and guide weapons to destroy them). Strangely, Underwood could not get a lock on the target even though it was not moving. It seemed as though the vehicle was interfering with his targeting system. This is highly unusual for a system that is designed to maintain track under evasive maneuvers and resist all manner of interference.

Fortunately, Underwood recorded his efforts to get a lock on the strange craft and that is what is now known as the famous “FLIR” video. There were no other unidentified aircraft in the vicinity according to those in the Princeton’s Combat Information Center, so it does not seem a case of mistaken identity. Once again, the Tic Tac demonstrated its astonishing ability to instantaneously accelerate to hypersonic speeds. It was so fast some of the Princeton radar operators were surprised that even their superb radar system, designed to track ballistic missiles, was able to follow the vehicle’s extreme movements.

I’ve interviewed Fravor and Dietrich and one of their WSO’s regarding the Tic Tac and their description is identical in terms of size, color, erratic and unconventional movements, lack of visible control surfaces or means of propulsion and unprecedented speed and maneuverability. I’ve also interviewed in person and spoken with various crew members who served in the Princeton’s CIC. All the testimony I received is clear and consistent. Testimony provided by Underwood is also a perfect match for what Fravor and Dietrich and the WSO had observed earlier that day:

"The thing that stood out to me the most was how erratic it was behaving,” Underwood continued. “And what I mean by ‘erratic’ is that its changes in altitude, airspeed, and aspect were just unlike things that I’ve ever encountered before flying against other air targets. It was just behaving in ways that aren’t physically normal…That’s what caught my eye. Because aircraft, whether they’re manned or unmanned, still have to obey the laws of physics,” Underwood said. “They have to have some source of lift, some source of propulsion. The Tic Tac was not doing that. It was going from like 50,000 feet to, you know, a hundred feet in like seconds, which is not possible… the video shows a source of heat, but the normal signatures of an exhaust plume were not there. There was no sign of propulsion. You could not see the thing that the ATFLIR pod should pick up 100 percent of the time.”

Now we can talk specifics bearing in mind that it isn’t us and as far as we can tell it isn’t the Russians or Chinese either. Furthermore, similar incidents have been occurring since the 1940’s when it is inconceivable another country could have possessed such capabilities. So, rather than talking in vague generic terms about equipment failures or optical illusions, let’s talk about specific incidents like the Nimitz case and theories that might explain them and ways to test those theories. That is a discussion worth having. We urgently need to make a serious effort to discover how these vehicles work: Where they are from, and why they are here.

In my next article, I will discuss options our government should consider to help answer the vital security questions raised by these continuing violations of U.S. airspace. Meanwhile, I’ve appended below some questions to help promote a more meaningful discussion of the report and the UAP phenomenon.

Questions About the Nimitz Case:

  • Is there any reason to doubt the competence of the naval aviators and radar operators and technicians who were involved in the Nimitz incident? Is there any reason to doubt they saw what they claimed to have seen in conditions of near-perfect visibility?

  • What hypothesis can best explain what we now know of the Nimitz incident -- especially in light of the Senate report confirming there is no reason to think the Tic Tac is American, Russian or Chinese. In addition, although the report only considers incidents since 2004, we know thousands of similar incidents have occurred since WWII, further undermining the American, Russian or Chinese hypotheses.

  • In sum, if there is a better hypothesis than alien technology, for the Nimitz case what is it?

  • Is there any reason to doubt that the Princeton’s Aegis radar was functioning properly? If it wasn’t working properly then how did it successfully guide multiple F-18’s to their intercepts of the Tic Tac?

  • USS Princeton radar operators and technicians claim that the tracks they were observing for days prior to the intercept were so unusual they tested and rebooted the Aegis system and found it in perfect working order before the Tic Tac engagement of November 14th. Is there any reason to doubt this testimony or believe the SPY 1 radar was malfunctioning?

  • There were a number of incidents in which the USS Princeton observed Tic Tacs traveling at hypersonic speeds. In some cases, they did so in vertical drops descending from altitudes as high as 80,000 feet. The Tic Tac also demonstrated the ability to hover in place before and after astounding bursts of acceleration. Can any known vehicle accomplish such feats?

  • Are there any hypersonic propulsion systems we know of that do not generate massive exhaust and heat signatures?

  • Does the U.S. or any other nation possess vehicles that can break the sound barrier without creating a sonic boom?

  • Do we know of any vehicles capable of hypersonic speeds that are white, thick and rounded, and lack wings, air inlets, and exhaust or control surfaces?

  • The Tic Tac maneuvered in ways unlike any known aircraft according to the aviators who observed it. For example, it moved laterally, side to side, like a ball bouncing off invisible walls. It demonstrated the ability to descend in a straight vertical line at hypersonic speeds. Are any known vehicles capable of such performance?

  • Cmdr. Fravor observed the Tic Tac accelerate away from him so quickly that it almost seemed to instantly disappear. Shortly afterward, the USS Princeton reported the UAP hovering at the “CAP point” 60 miles away, again verifying hypersonic speeds as well as hovering capabilities. Have we observed similar capabilities among any Russian or Chinese aircraft?

  • Some “debunkers” have suggested that perhaps Lt. Underwood was not looking at the Tic Tac but a jet lacking a transponder flying in restricted military airspace. However, the Princeton’s crew affirm that they monitored Lt. Underwood’s approach and interaction with the Tic Tac and saw it accelerate from him at hypersonic speeds. If there were a conventional aircraft nearby why didn’t the USS Princeton seen it on its SPY 1 radar?

  • Underwood was unable to get a radar lock on the hovering Tic Tac. He tried switching to different frequencies and modes to no avail. This inability to get a lock on a stationary target should not happen with any aircraft unless it is employing electronic warfare technologies. How could a stray balloon, a conventional aircraft or flock of geese explain the facts of the Nimitz case?

Extraterrestrial technology was not discussed in the report because the issue is too politically sensitive, not because it is irrelevant. There was no proof presented of alien involvement, even at the classified level, but the dilemma remains unsolved and the primary alternatives to the alien hypothesis are clearly diminished by the report. When will the press and our government begin taking the alien hypothesis seriously? Indeed, in light of the facts presently available, how do we avert the conclusion that alien technology is the leading, perhaps only viable explanation? What theory can the skeptics or our government suggest that better fits the facts? That is a discussion worth having.


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