U.S. Department Of Defense Video Shows Unknown Object Intercepted By U.S. Navy Super Hornet And We Have No Idea What It Was.

ATFLIR footage of a mysterious object intercepted by USN F/A-18 Super Hornet in 2004.

This video shows the weird object as seen from a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet’s ATFLIR (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared) pod. What is it? Any idea?

On Dec. 16, the NYT published an interesting story about a U.S. Department of Defense program that investigated reports of UFOs (unidentified flying objects). Along with interviews with program participants and records they obtained investigating the mysterious Pentagon program, The New York Times has released a video that shows a close encounter between an F/A-18F Super Hornet out of USS Nimitz and one of these UFOs back in 2004.

Take a look and tell me if you have an idea what that object might be.

Back in 2007, a user (cometa2) of the popular Above Top Secret (ATS) forum posted an alleged official CVW-11 Event Summary of a close encounter occurred on Nov. 14, 2004. Back then, when the encounter had not been confirmed yet, many users questioned the authenticity of both the event log and the footage allegedly filmed during the UFO intercept. More than 10 years later, with an officially released video of the encounter, it’s worth having a look at that unverified event log again: although we can’t say for sure whether it is genuine or not, it is at least “realistic” and provides some interesting details and narrative consistent with the real carrier ops. Moreover, the summary says that the callsign of the aircraft involved in the encounter is Fast Eagle: this callsign is used by the VFA-41 Black Aces – incidentally the very same squadron of David Fravor, formed Co of VFA-41, the pilot who recalled the encounter to NYT.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt:

FAST EAGLES 110/100 UPON TAKE OFF WERE VECTORED BY PRINCETON AND BANGER (1410L) TO INTERCEPT UNID CONTACT AT [email protected] (N3050.8 W11746.9) (NIMITZ N3129.3 W11752.8). PRINCETON INFORMED FAST EAGLES THAT THE CONTACT WAS MOVING AT 100 KTS @ 25KFT ASL.

FAST EAGLES (110/100) COULD NOT FIND UNID AIRBORNE CONTACT AT LOCATION GIVEN BY PRINCETON. WHILE SEARCHING FOR UNID AIR CONTACT, FAST EAGLES SPOTTED LARGE UNID OBJECT IN WATER AT 1430L. PILOTS SAW STEAM/ SMOKE/CHURNING AROUND OBJECT. PILOT DESCRIBES OBJECT INITIALLY AS RESEMBLING A DOWNED AIRLINER, ALSO STATED THAT IT WAS MUCH LARGER THAN A SUBMARINE.

WHILE DESCENDING FROM 24K FT TO GAIN A BETTER VIEW OF THE UNID CONTACT IN THE WATER, FAST EAGLE 110 SIGHTED AN AIRBORNE CONTACT WHICH APPEARED TO BE CAPSULE SHAPED (WINGLESS, MOBILE, WHITE, OBLONG PILL SHAPED, 25-30 FEET IN LENGTH, NO VISIBLE MARKINGS AND NO GLASS) 5NM WEST FROM POSITION OF UNID OBJECT IN WATER.

CAPSULE (ALT 4K FT AT COURSE 300) PASSED UNDER FAST EAGLE 110 (ALT 16KFT). FAST EAGLE 110 BEGAN TURN TO ACQUIRE CAPSULE. WHILE 110 WAS DESCENDING AND TURNING, CAPSULE BEGAN CLIMBING AND TURNED INSIDE OF FAST EAGLE’S TURN RADIUS. PILOT ESTIMATED THAT CAPSULE ACHIEVED 600-700 KTS. FAST EAGLE 110 COULD NOT KEEP UP WITH THE RATE OF TURN AND THE GAIN OF ALTITUDE BY THE CAPSULE. 110 LOST VISUAL ID OF CAPSULE IN HAZE.
LAST VISUAL CONTACT HAD CAPSULE AT 14KFT HEADING DUE EAST.

NEITHER FAST EAGLES 110 OR 100 COULD ACHIEVE RADAR LOCK OR ANY OTHER MEANS OF POSITIVE ID. FAST EAGLE 100 WAS FLYING HIGH COVER AND SAW THE ENGAGEMENT BY FAST EAGLE 110. FAST EAGLE 100 CONFIRMS 110 VISUAL ID; 100 LOST CONTACT IN HAZE AS WELL.

CPA OF ACFT 110 FROM CONTACT 4000-5000 FT.

So, what’s your opinion on the video (BTW here you can find an interesting description of the ATFLIR symbology)? What’s that “capsule shaped (wingless, mobile, white, oblong pill-shaped)” object?

H/T to @obretix for the help preparing this article.

About David Cenciotti 4451 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

13 Comments

  1. I’ll bite…

    Assuming the account is real, a submarine has just launched drones, or is receiving items from drones.

    The drones were above a not-quite surfaced ballistic missile submarine. The pilots said it was too big for a submarine as they’re used to seeing attack subs – attack sub is around 250ft compared to ballistic missile sub around 450ft)

    The object was about 12000 feet away (it was at 4KFT when it passed under the plane which was at 16KFT) so not surprised their description isn’t detailed.

    The NYT article says that the object flew to the cap point assigned to the two aircraft after they’d lost contact with it. This implies it’s American, not foreign (because foreign would GTFO whereas an American listening in to the radio comms would be relaxed enough to troll the pilots and radar guys a little).

    • I agree that it was probably a boomer. I’m not sure it’s of ours however. You’d think Navy guys would be somewhat familiar with what our SSBN’s look like.

      My money would be on a Russian Typhoon class ballistic missile sub probably testing some kind of drone or something as you said. I know Typhoons are/were so damn big they don’t look real! I’m not sure if Russia has any officially still in service or not today?

      • A drone that could be launched from a sub and out maneuver a jet fighter. In 2004? I don’t think that the US military has that capability today. The Russians most most certainly didn’t 13 years ago. What’s described in the encounter would qualify as a tier 3/group 5 UAV. Predator, Global Hawk, Darkstar, Firescout – that’s what US cutting edge UAV back in 2004.

    • Thanks! Your suggestion certainly sounds plausible if we assume our big ‘boomers’ launch and perhaps recover drones for some purpose. That might be to look around or to covertly send and receive more data than the sub itself could while staying submerged. When you’re at sea for months, it’d be nice to get videos from home via satellite rather than just terse ELF radio messages. And I can understand why the Navy might not want to make such practices public.

      In that video, you can even see what I interpret to be the stumpy, collapsible wings that many drones have.

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