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 4467 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 five books and contributed to many more ones.

14 Comments

  1. Fake. The clue being the “object” remaining perfectly centered in the HUD and none of the markers changing or recentering on the target.

    • Exactly. There is no way it could’ve stayed in the center of the HUD while the F-18 was in that kind of turn, or even if the AC was flying straight and level.

      • After reading the report in Fightersweep, it appears the account in the media and this event log don’t reflect the actual crew who recorded the video. It was not FASTEAGLE. The video shows a second flight of super hornets launched after Cmdr. Fravor’s flight trapped. This flight added the ATFLIR which FASTEAGLE did not have aboard. In the second flight, the Princeton reported the object at 15KFT-20KFT hovering. This is why we see imagery of level flight and the IR track. In the second flight the WSO tried to slave his ATFLIR to a RWS track on AESA but could not get a lock.

    • That’s not from the HUD. It’s from the atflir and it shows the aircraft in a level left hand turn with the tracked object starting from about 50 degrees left moving to straight ahead at the end of the video.

    • I thought much the same. The counter argument might be the “SLAVE” indication along the right side of the HUD. But it looks too clean. I fly in formation with other aircraft on a regular basis, the sight picture is never this clean.

    • Don’t think that’s the hud. Looks like video from a FLIR. Most likely a Nitehawk or ATFLIR pod.

    • why not? or are you another who believe Russia is a backward country with no money or resources. Ask the F 22 pilot who engaged the SU-25’s over Syria last week what he did when an SU-35sm appeared. He said there’s no point hanging around when the SU-35 had him in visual range as he would lose a dogfight with it. Now we’re talking about the U. S most advanced air superiority fighter running away from a Russian 4th gen fighter. Don’t underestimate the Russians.

      • It’s called “de-confliction” comrade. No desire to start WW3 over who is more macho. US has the maturity to do this while Russia must try to prove something due to inferiority complex. F-22 could kill them all easily and be home in time for lunch.

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