Although they are now called UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena), a new report on unidentified flying objects set to be released next month shows the US government is taking aliens increasingly seriously.
The encounter that really ignited the Pentagon's interest occured nearly twenty years ago, reports The Telegraph.
On 14 November 2004, Lieutenant Commander Alex Dietrich was stationed off the coast of southern California on the USS Nimitz carrier, when numerous flying objects were picked up by ship radar. The objects had descended impossibly fast, dropping a distance of 80,000ft in less than a second.
In separate planes, Lt Cdr Dietrich and Commander David Fravor were dispatched to investigate. What they saw on that day has never been adequately explained – until now.
“Enter stage left, the Tic Tac - that’s what we affectionately refer to it as,” says Lt Cdr Dietrich, speaking publicly for the first time this week in an interview with 60 Minutes, the venerable US news programme.
“It jumped from spot to spot, and tumbled around in a way that was unpredictable. The whole time we’re on the radio with each other just losing our minds.” Cmdr Fravor aggressively engaged one of the oblong objects, which he estimated to be 40ft in length, while Lt Cdr Dietrich adopted “high cover” above. Then it disappeared.
Ship radar picked it up seconds later, 60 miles away. A third F/A-18 then caught it on an infrared camera: it looked like a giant white Tic Tac.
Lt Cdr Dietrich decided to go public with her story now – three years after Cdr Fravor – to reduce the “stigma” associated with UFO reports and, she says, to encourage other pilots to come forward without feeling “embarrassed or ashamed”. Bear in mind, she's no flake. She's a US Navy fighter pilot who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has landed a supersonic F/A-18 jet on an aircraft carrier hundreds of times, and now teaches at the US Naval Academy.
Her testimony coincides with a growing acceptance among defence officials around the world that there may indeed be something “out there” – and that it might pose a genuine global security threat.
After decades of doing everything possible to keep reported UFO sightings secret, the Pentagon is changing tack. For starters, it no longer refers to them as UFOs – with their connotations of little green men – but to UAPs, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.
Next month, Congress is to be given an unclassified report on evidence collected by the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force, the Office of Naval Intelligence and the FBI. Ufologists - people who investigate UFOs - across the globe are hailing it as an unprecedented watershed moment in their long quest to uncover what the US government really knows – and they have former president Donald Trump to thank for it.
In December, when Mr Trump signed his mammoth $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief bill into law, it contained a little remarked upon clause requiring a full report on UFOs within 180 days, i.e. by 25 June.
“We’re absolutely in new territory here,” says Nick Pope, who investigated UFO sightings while working as a British civil servant for the Ministry of Defence in the 1990s.
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