On Monday, the US Department of Defense officially released three videos depicting encounters between Navy pilots and unidentified aerial phenomena. These events occurred in 2004 and 2015, but the videos didn’t publicly surface until the New York Times included them with a front page story about the Pentagon’s “mysterious UFO program” in 2017. The Navy previously acknowledged that the videos are authentic, but the Pentagon never authorized them for release. Now it has.
Each of the three videos contains footage captured by Navy pilots that show a strange-looking oval zipping through the air and over the ocean. In a video from 2015 called “Gimbal,” a flying object shaped like a Tic Tac whips through the clouds before it slows and begins to rotate. The pilot filming the encounter describes it over the radio as “a fucking drone, bro.” In another video from 2015, referred to as “Go Fast,” a small white speck is tracked by a jet’s infrared system as it flies low over the ocean. The oldest video, “FLIR1,” is also from a jet infrared system and shows an oval object rapidly accelerating.
The videos were originally published by the New York Times and To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, a company founded by former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge to research UFOs and other unexplained phenomena. When the videos were released in 2017, To the Stars staffers claimed that the footage had “been through the official declassification review process and has been approved for public release.”
“All videos were previously reviewed by the cognizant DOD authority under the 1910 process and were cleared for ‘unrestricted release’ by the Defense Office of Prepublication Security Review,” says Luis Elizondo, To the Stars’ director of government programs and services. Elizondo is a former Department of Defense employee who claims to have led its Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, the “mysterious UFO program” alluded to in the New York Times report. The “1910 process” refers to the Defense Department form 1910 used to request clearance to release DOD information to the public.
But in their statement this week, Pentagon officials describe the 2017 release as “unauthorized.” Three years later, the DOD is finally ready to authorize the videos … even though they’ve already been watched by millions of people. “After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” Department of Defense officials wrote in a press release published on Monday.