After verifying the authenticity of the footage years ago, the Pentagon has finally released three videos of separate encounters between Navy pilots and unidentified flying objects.

The videos — two were taken in January 2015, while the third dates back to November 2004 — were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said.

The videos have been circulating online for years, each featuring bewildered Navy pilots commenting on curious flight behaviors of UFOs. But the Department of Defense claims they withheld the official release of the footage partially to ensure nothing in the video required ongoing secrecy. Now, all three have been posted on the official page of Naval Air Systems Command.

“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,” Gough added.

The 2004 encounter, which The New York Times documented in 2017, took place in the Pacific approximately 100 miles off the coast after a Navy cruiser requested aerial assistance following repeated encounters with unidentified aircraft.

“It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” one pilot told the NYT. Multiple air crew described the object, which hovered at a low altitude over the water before speeding away, as oblong-shaped and about 40 feet in length, the report said.

Following the encounter, the pilots departed for the vicinity of the cruiser, a location approximately 60 miles away. To the surprise of the Navy aircrews, which were still close to 40 miles away from the cruiser, the ship radioed to say the UFO had already reappeared.

In an interview with the NYT, one pilot says that the object covered the 60 miles “in less than a minute.”

One of the videos from 2015 depicts what one pilot referred to as “a fleet” of high-speed objects that, at one point, begin rotating in a static position.

“Look at that thing, dude!” one pilot says in the video. “It’s rotating!”

“Dude, this is a f---ing drone, bro,” another crew member says.

The Navy previously acknowledged the authenticity of the footage, with officials going as far as drafting guidelines in 2019 to establish a formal process for pilots and military personnel to report UFO sightings — a move made following a surge in what the Navy called a series of intrusions by advanced aircraft on Navy carrier strike groups.

While this development was announced sans admission of the existence of alien life, it signals a return to DoD acknowledgement that the series of recently documented encounters at least warrant further investigation.

In fact, so prevalent was DoD’s interest in tracking the phenomena years ago that it established a program inside the Pentagon solely dedicated to investigating reports of UFO sightings.

The existence of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which ran from 2007 until 2012, was confirmed by DoD officials in December 2017, who noted it was done away with when it "was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.”

Former military intelligence official Luis Elizondo, who claims to have spearheaded the AATIP, said last year that the Pentagon should be taking a more aggressive approach to analyzing data surrounding UFO encounters.

“If you are in a busy airport and see something you are supposed to say something,” he told Politico in 2019.

“With our own military members it is kind of the opposite: ‘If you do see something, don’t say something. ... What happens in five years if it turns out these are extremely advanced Russian aircraft?”

In 2017, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with former Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, openly backed the establishment of the AATIP.

“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Reid told the New York Times in 2017. “I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.”

Reid tweeted his approval Monday of the Pentagon’s release of the videos, saying, “it only scratches the surface of research and materials available. The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed.”

Elizondo, meanwhile, recently appeared in a six-part documentary series titled “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation™” — the trademark symbol is part of the title — alongside other former Pentagon officials and Blink-182 co-founder Tom DeLonge, who established a research company called To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences as a means to prove the existence of alien life.

DeLonge’s team at TTSA is spearheaded by a number of noteworthy officials who have spent significant time occupying high-ranking DoD positions.

Dr. Hal Puthoff, a NASA quantum physicist and DoD adviser, Jim Semivan, a former senior intelligence member of the CIA, and Chris Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in both the Clinton and Bush administrations who was instrumental in creating Special Operations Command, all occupy leadership positions within TTSA.

DeLonge’s To the Stars shot onto everyone’s radar after the company released one of the declassified videos from 2015 that showed an encounter between U.S. Navy pilots and a UFO.

And now, much like the universe, the military’s affiliation with alien-related subject matter appears to be ever-expanding, as the Army inked a contract with DeLonge’s TTSA last October to collaborate in the study of “exotic” metals that both parties hope will lead to the development of advanced technologies.

As part of the agreement, the Army’s Ground Vehicle System Center and Ground Vehicle Survivability and Protection component will lend research resources, including laboratories, to TTSA, which in turn will leverage what the company asserts are alien metals capable of enhancing the effectiveness of Army vehicles.

To the Stars claims to have “acquired, designed, or produced” these materials, which can offer an array of futuristic modifications like active camouflage, beamed energy propulsion, inertial mass reduction, and quantum communication.

Details on how or where DeLonge’s company acquired these materials were not provided.

“Our partnership with TTSA serves as an exciting, non-traditional source for novel materials and transformational technologies to enhance our military ground system capabilities,” Dr. Joseph Cannon, deputy product manager of science and technology in the Vehicle Protection Systems Division of the GVSC, said in a TTSA press release announcing the contract.

"We look forward to this partnership and the potential technical innovations forthcoming.”

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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