UFOs Are 'Real,' and the US Needs Answers, Former Military Officials Say


As the military prepares to release what it knows about unidentified aerial phenomena -- or UAPs, but better known as UFOs -- former service members and Pentagon officials are becoming increasingly vocal about what they've seen in the skies that can't be explained.

In a blockbuster report Sunday on "60 Minutes," multiple military officials told reporter Bill Whitaker that the U.S. military has repeatedly observed aircraft that it can't identify. The aircraft have displayed extraordinary capabilities that have been both observed by aviators and captured on radar, video and other data.

Whether their origins are extraterrestrial, or come from an adversary's advanced research laboratories, the officials say these aircraft far surpass all limitations of known technology -- and seemingly even laws of physics.

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"Imagine a technology that can do 600 to 700 G-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that can evade radar and that can fly through air and water and possibly space," Lue Elizondo, a former military intelligence official who was part of the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP, told "60 Minutes." "And oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces, and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth's gravity. That's precisely what we're seeing."

As officials like Elizondo and Christopher Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, grew increasingly concerned about the national security implications of these UAPs, no matter where they came from, they moved to inform the public.

"I'm not telling you that it doesn't sound wacky," Elizondo said on "60 Minutes." "What I'm telling you, it's real. The question is, what is it? What are its intentions? What are its capabilities?"

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"60 Minutes" also interviewed several Navy personnel who observed unexplainable aircraft, including F/A-18F Super Hornet pilots David Fravor and Alex Dietrich, who encountered UAPs described as flying "Tic Tacs" while deployed with the aircraft carrier Nimitz in 2004.

Fravor and Dietrich were part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group training near California when they were sent to investigate "multiple anomalous aerial vehicles" over the horizon, according to "60 Minutes."

The vehicles were observed descending 80,000 feet in less than a second, they said. They saw what Fravor described as a "little white Tic Tac-looking object" -- roughly the same size as his jet, but with no markings, wings or exhaust plumes -- that stopped abruptly and began purposely mimicking his moves.

Dietrich told "60 Minutes" she first thought it might have been a helicopter or drone. But Fravor tried to get close to it, "and when it gets right in front of me, it just disappears. ... Like, gone."

Fravor said both he and Dietrich and the two weapons systems officers in their backseats all observed the object for about five minutes.

"60 Minutes" reported that Elizondo tried to keep working to uncover the story behind UAPs, even after AATIP was defunded in 2012, but he grew frustrated and resigned in 2017. But first, according to the show, he managed to get three videos of highly peculiar Navy encounters declassified.

Mellon told "60 Minutes" he tried unsuccessfully to help Elizondo get the issue before the secretary of defense, and likewise grew concerned the Pentagon wasn't doing anything. So, behind the scenes, he got ahold of those declassified videos and leaked them to a reporter in 2017. The New York Times' December 2017 report on them, "On the Trail of a Secret Pentagon UFO Program," jolted the debate over UFOs and forced the Pentagon to start answering some awkward questions.

"It's bizarre and unfortunate that someone like myself has to do something like that to get a national security issue like this on the agenda," Mellon told "60 Minutes."

Pressure increased on the Pentagon, and Congress stepped in. The fiscal 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, passed last December as part of the omnibus COVID-19 relief bill, ordered the Pentagon to report to Congress by June what it knows about UAPs, or "anomalous aerial vehicles."

Earlier this month, the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General released a short statement announcing it has started an evaluation "to determine the extent to which the DoD has taken actions regarding unidentified aerial phenomena."

The Pentagon launched a Navy-led task force last August, resurrecting the defunct AATIP, to track down any encounters service members may have had with aerial objects that could pose a threat to national security.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told "60 Minutes" that getting to the bottom of these encounters is vital to the security of the U.S.

"Anything that enters an airspace that's not supposed to be there is a threat," said Rubio, who pushed the intelligence community and Pentagon to inform lawmakers about what they know while he was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

But the stigma associated with investigating potential UFOs and discouragement from his fellow lawmakers can be discouraging, even for a senator, he said.

"Some of my colleagues are very interested in this topic, and some kinda, you know, giggle when you bring it up," Rubio said. "But I don't think we can allow the stigma to keep us from having an answer to a very fundamental question."

-- Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

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