One of three photos of a supposed UFO taken by Rex Heflin, August 3, 1965, near Santa Ana, Calif. Heflin was an Orange County highway department investigator.
Photo: Rex Heflin (AP)
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After at least two high profile incidents in which U.S. Navy aircraft and ships spotted unusual flying objects near training areas, the military is now introducing new guidelines for pilots to more easily report such sightings. The result is a Pentagon apparently taking the idea of flying saucers—terrestrial or extraterrestrial—more seriously than ever before.

In a response to questions posed by Politico, the U.S. Navy issued a statement revealing the new guidelines. “There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated airspace in recent years,” the Navy stated. “For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the [U.S. Air Force] takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report. As part of this effort, the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities.”


The new process is currently in draft form and will apparently be distributed to the fleet at a later date.

Both U.S. Navy incidents involved carrier-based F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
Image: Lee Jin-man (AP)

Sightings by military pilots and personnel have always been a part of UFO folklore but a lack of evidence has kept them in the category of folklore.

That changed in December 2017, when The New York Times ran a lengthy account by a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet crew. In 2004 off the coast of southern California, the pilots were vectored to an usual radar return by the guided missile cruiser USS Princeton.


An unidentified flying object had been picked up by the Princeton flying near the Navy’s exercise area. The object, as well as a larger object in the water, was observed both by pilots and the cruiser’s advanced SPY-1 radar system.

Shortly after the Times published the account of the 2004 incident a second incident involving the Navy and UFOs that took place in 2015 went public. That incident, again witnessed by naval aviators, was recorded by a Super Hornet equipped with an ATFLIR (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infra Red) electro-optic targeting pod.


The flight crew was able to get the ATFLIR’s autotracker to lock onto the object and record several seconds of infrared video.

According to Politico, recent coverage of the Navy UFOs stirred interest in Congress, and the service acknowledged giving briefings on the issue, delivered by senior naval intelligence personnel, to “Congressional members and staff.”


At this point it appears clear that U.S. military personnel really have seen aerial phenomena that were outside their normal realm of experience, and that this has probably been going on for some time now.

Who is controlling these objects and where they are coming from is far from clear, but it appears the Pentagon isn’t too concerned about them, which is weird because their technology appears far more sophisticated than our own.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and security writer based in San Francisco, California.

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