Reports newly released by the Naval Safety Center reveal more information on the bizarre encounters U.S. Navy pilots have had with unidentified flying objects off the east coast of the United States.
Eight hazard reports filed with the center’s web-based reporting system were acquired under the Freedom of Information Act by The Drive and detail strange run-ins that include a near mid-air collision with a balloon-like object and a sighting of a suitcase-sized aircraft.
In one 2014 encounter, the Navy jet reported even being able to lock onto the object with an air-to-air missile.
Seven of the reports were filed between 2013 and 2014 in a patch of airspace known as W-72 warning area which lies off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina. In each of these reports, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets were involved in the encounter.
The eighth report released occurred years later in 2019 and took place in the airspace known as the W-386 warning area which also lies over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maryland. This final report involved an EA-18G Growler.
Seven of the reports were filed between 2013 and 2014 and involved F/A-18E/F Super Hornets from the Naval Air Station Oceana off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina. Pictured two F/A-18 Super Hornet Strike Fighters refuel during a fly over at the NAS Ocean Air Show
The Drive noted that they filed the FOIA request for reports dealing with naval aviation encounters with unidentified objects, balloons, and any other similar objects anywhere and were told that these were the only ones submitted.
The first report recorded an encounter from June 27, 2013, when Strike Fighter Squadron 11 spotted an ‘aircraft [that] was white in color and approximately the size and shape of a drone or missile’.
The Super Hornet’s crew said they had ‘visually acquired’ it as it passed ‘down the right side of their aircraft with approximately 200 feet of lateral separation’.
The jet was flying at an altitude of 17,000 feet while the report says the other object was climbing and had a visible exhaust trail.
Neither the Super Hornet or the Naval Air Station Oceana had recorded a radar track of the object.
The second encounter documented wasn’t until November 18, 2013, when an F/A-18E Super Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143), again flying out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia, spotted an object via its radar.
‘The aircraft had an approximately 5-foot wingspan and was colored white with no other distinguishable features,’ according to the pilot.
The jet tracked the object for an hour but the report concluded that it was an unmanned aerial system (UAS) and the operator could not be ascertained.
The third report was made the same day by the pilot of a second F/A-18E Super Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143) who said they saw the same object at roughly the same position.
There were no more reports made through 2013 or the start of 2014 until a March 26 encounter with an ‘unknown aircraft appeared to be small in size, approximately the size of a suitcase, and silver in color’.
The pilot was unable to identify what it was and after it passed by it at 1,000ft. It lost visual contact and was unable to find the object again.
This report expressed growing concern for the safety of pilots as the object appeared too small to detect if radio communication was not made.
The encounters were reported in a patch of airspace known as W-72 warning area which lies off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina and shown here in red
It ‘presents a significant safety concern, given that this unknown aircraft was detected in an exclusive use area’, the report said.
‘I feel it may only be a matter of time before one of our F/A-18 aircraft has a mid-air collision with an unidentified UAS [unmanned aerial system],’ the head of VFA-106 added in their comments.
On April 23, 2014, a Naval aircraft encountered four ‘unidentified aerial devices’, two of which did not appear on the aircraft’s radar.
A day later on April 24 came the encounter when the aircraft was able to lock onto the object with its CATM-9Xs, a captive-carry training version of the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile, according to The Drive.
The aircraft again encountered a UAS in the W-72 warning area but did not make visual contact.
The final report in the area appears the most dangerous from its description of a ‘near mid-air collision with balloon like object’.
It happened on an April 27, 2014 – the third time in five days that an aircraft had met with an unidentified object in the area.
The final report released this week was not submitted until nearly five years later when a Naval aircraft spotted what they described as ‘a red weather balloon’ on February 13, 2019.
This was the only encounter to involve the crew of an EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft.
The crew was from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) and flying out Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland and conducting activities in the W-386 warning area.
The newly released reports come just two weeks after The Pentagon officially released three videos taken by US Navy pilots showing mid-air encounters with what appear to be UFOs.
One of the videos released by the Pentagon on April 28 was captured off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, in 2015 (pictured). The videos were taken by US Navy pilots
The grainy black and white footage had previously been leaked and the Navy had acknowledged they were Navy videos.
The Department of Defense said on April 28 it was ‘releasing the videos 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.’
‘The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified,” the Pentagon statement said.
One of videos was shot in November 2004 and the other two in January 2015.
In one, the weapons sensor operator appears to lose lock on a rapidly moving oblong object which seconds later suddenly accelerates away to the left and out of view.
In another video tracking an object above the clouds, one pilot wonders if it is a drone.
‘There’s a whole fleet of them. Look on the ASA,’ the other says.
‘My gosh, they’re all going against the wind! The wind’s 120 knots out of the west!’ he said.
‘Look at that thing,’ the first says as the object starts rotating.
The videos had previously been released by the New York Times and the To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science, a group co-founded by Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge.
This content was originally published here.