By MIA JANKOWICZ
The Pentagon on Monday released three videos of “unidentified aerial phenomena” — more commonly referred to as UFOs — after years of speculation about them.
The videos, captured on Navy aircraft cameras with infrared targeting systems, show black shapes floating and sometimes accelerating at incredible speeds against the wind as baffled pilots watch.
All three videos had previously been leaked, prompting the Navy to confirm their authenticity in September in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
It said in January that some briefing material it had about the videos was classified as top secret and would cause “exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States” if released.
Despite long-standing popular associations with stories of aliens, the terms “unidentified aerial phenomena” and “UFO” do not mean the object is thought to be extraterrestrial.
“It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” one of the pilots, Cmdr. David Fravor, told The Times in 2017.
GOFAST, January 2015
This clip shows what looks like the ocean surface as a small object skims past the camera at high speed.
The pilots tracking it can be heard giving a whoop of satisfaction when the camera gets a fix on it. One says, “What the f— is that?”
GIMBAL, January 2015
In the 34-second footage, the aircraft’s infrared camera tracks a saucer-like object flying above clouds as pilots discuss what it could be.
One says it could be a drone, while another comments that “there’s a whole fleet of them,” though no other object is visible in the video.
The object then rotates.
“My gosh, they’re all going against the wind — the wind’s 120 knots to the west,” the first pilot can be heard saying.
The Department of Defense said on Monday that it found that the videos don’t “reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems” and that their release “does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena.”
“DOD is 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,” it added.
“The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified.'”
This release ‘only scratches the surface’ of what the government knows
Former Sen. Harry Reid, who helped fund the US government’s UFO investigations, tweeted on Monday that the Pentagon’s release of the videos “only scratches the surface” of what the government has on file.
As the Senate majority leader in 2007, Reid funneled $22 million into the investigations, the news website Axios reported.
“I’m glad the Pentagon is finally releasing this footage, but it only scratches the surface of research and materials available,” he tweeted.
“The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications,” he added. “The American people deserve to be informed.”