The recent report of the US national intelligence agency on the FANIs (no, they are no longer UFOs, now they are Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomena) has come to give a patina of respectability to a favorite subject of science fiction: the presence of machines of unknown origin (manned or not) in our skies. Many pilots avoided referring to them due to the suspicion raised by those acronyms and their association with “little green martians”; the new denomination, officially blessed by the Pentagon, intends to treat the matter from a more formal and respectable point of view.
The report recounts a series of observations made by military pilots or from US Navy ships relatively recently. And it recognizes the impossibility of determining its nature, at least on the basis of the records accumulated so far.
This time one of the novelties is that some encounters were observed using a combination of sensors (video, radar or infrared) and there are certainly surprising recordings. On many occasions, the detection was made by military personnel, familiar with their equipment and little given to being carried away by alien fantasies. As a general rule, each time the radar located an anomalous contact, the operation and calibration of the equipment was verified up to three times before and after the incident. Only then was the corresponding official report recorded.
Some video recordings show vehicles with behaviors that are difficult to explain: they not only move at high speeds, but also perform very abrupt maneuvers, which seem to ignore inertia. Images are always blurry, partly because of the distance from which they have been obtained, partly because they are often low-resolution infrared recordings.
As difficult as it is to discern the shape of these objects, none show anything like wings or airfoils. Stranger still: in more than a dozen cases no propulsion system has been observed; no propellers, no jet engines … If this were to be confirmed, there goes Newton’s third law …
The FLIR sensors on the fighters in the nose should have detected at least the heat trail from the exhausts, although it is true that stealth jets inject cool air into their nozzles to reduce the infrared “signature”. It is such an efficient system that sometimes they are equipped with reflectors so that the radar can detect them.
The report in question recognizes that the combination of speed and agility exhibited by these objects surpasses everything in the American arsenal and – as far as is known – in that of other powers. As far as is known
Several countries have developed hypersonic vehicles (so called those that exceed Mach 5, that is, five times the speed of sound). They are generally unmanned missiles; the only hypersonic plane with a pilot was the X-15, retired many years ago, and, of course, the shuttles and space capsules that re-enter at Mach 25. But they are vehicles that do not fly at low altitude, like those described in the Pentagon report, much less perform such abrupt maneuvers .
The report in question recognizes that the combination of speed and agility exhibited by these objects surpasses everything in the American arsenal and – as far as is known – in that of other powers. As far as is known. Because in military technology, some advances take a long time to become public. For example, the prototype of the “invisible” fighter F-117 flew in 1977 but his first – and blurry – photograph did not appear until eleven years later.
Coinciding with the publication of the report, details of several sightings related to military personnel have been released. Two years ago, the corvette USS OmahaSailing off the coast of San Diego (where, incidentally, an important naval base is located), he detected a shadow of spherical shape and a couple of meters in diameter. The video it shows it at an almost constant height above the horizon until it begins to descend and disappear into the sea. No splashing visible (although this may be due to the low resolution of the video). A subsequent search of the area did not uncover debris or any indication that something had crashed there.
Other incidents show multiple radar contacts flying in swarms, suddenly disappearing or sometimes merging into each other. A video from the radar screen shows the ship surrounded by eight or nine intruders, at random trajectories, distances and speeds. And it was not a brief or sporadic phenomenon. The recording is the montage of three sequences that occurred intermittently over as many days.
The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of the images, although it maintains classified the official report. Both videos have been published on the Internet. They were recorded, it seems, from the CIC (Combat Information Center), Omaha. They do not seem official recordings, like previous ones that come from the aiming cameras of some F-18 fighters. Rather, they are videos obtained with cameras held by hand over the ship’s monitors and radar screen, hence the images are quite blurry and unstable. The one who has spread them the most through his website is an audiovisual producer called Jeremy corbell, author of reports that deal with the mythical Area 51 even paranormal phenomena. Everyone is free to say whether or not this origin compromises the credibility of such videos.
But what is keeping military analysts awake is not the possibility of an alien invasion, but rather that these vehicles are not real and are actually electronic “ghosts”: signals generated to confuse the radar and give the impression of a solid object. It is one of the many tactics employed in electronic warfare. Create false targets such as large formations of non-existent aircraft or manipulate the return of the enemy radar signal so that an aircraft appears to be elsewhere.
This would explain that the sightings have occurred from ships or military aircraft. If so, the impression couldn’t be more real. With current technology we would be talking about a first level simulation, since it not only fools the radar but also another range of electromagnetic sensors; But if we go back five years, when these incidents began to register, then we would be faced with truly extraordinary capabilities. Many countries have made great strides in electronic warfare techniques. Not just Russia or China; also others less conspicuous like Taiwan, India or Australia. And this is a specialty where no secrets are shared.
Could someone be testing their electronic decoys using the Navy as a guinea pig? It has no logic. These technologies are kept with the utmost reserve precisely to take advantage of the surprise effect. In the end, they are methods of deception: discovered the “bluff”, all its effectiveness disappears. But it is a hypothesis that continues to disturb the Pentagon.
Rafael Clemente He is an industrial engineer and was the founder and first director of the Barcelona Science Museum (now CosmoCaixa). He is the author of One small step to [un] man (Dome Books).