US Air Force: UFO That “Jammed” Fighter Jet’s Radar, “Blocked” Video Decoded In Latest Pentagon Report

In a new development concerning the mysterious encounter between a US Air Force fighter pilot and an unidentified flying object (UFO) over the Gulf of Mexico last year, a Pentagon unit has released a report debunking the incident.

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The All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), tasked with investigating UFO encounters and historical government activities related to the topic, published a report on April 24 regarding the January 26, 2023 encounter. 

The report concluded with “moderate confidence” that the pilot had identified a commercial lighting balloon or a similar object during the incident.

According to the report, the pilot initially observed four objects flying in formation between 16,000 – 18,000 feet using the onboard radar system. 

However, only one of the objects was visible to the pilot, who captured two images of the single object via the aircraft’s electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor.

The pilot captured the image observed through the aircraft’s electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor. Image credits: AARO

The object, described by the pilot as resembling the shape of an Apollo spacecraft, exhibited a peculiar infrared signature. 

While appearing uniformly gray in the visible spectrum, the magnified infrared image revealed a strong contrasting signature, suggesting a temperature/emissivity or reflectivity difference between its two hemispheres. This observation aligns with previous information indicating that the object was hot at the bottom but cool at the top.

The AARO report noted that the pilot’s description of the object visually observed at 16,000 feet matched recently declassified documents regarding the Apollo spacecraft’s shape. The report included a drawing provided by the pilot, further corroborating the assessment.

Based on the data the aircraft’s sensors provided, the AARO concluded that the reported unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP) “very likely was an ordinary object” and did not exhibit anomalous or exceptional characteristics or flight behaviors. 

Due to the limited data available, the office expressed “moderate confidence” in this assessment. The report also listed various types of balloons, including commercial lighting balloons, as potential sources for what the Eglin-based fighter pilot observed during the encounter. 

Additionally, the AARO emphasized that the object seen in the zoomed-in infrared image closely matched a commercial lighting balloon.

Details About The Incident 

The incident gained significant public attention when Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida brought it up during a Congressional hearing in July 2023. 

According to Gaetz’s testimony, the incident involved a sighting of four unidentified crafts arranged in a clear diamond formation, a sight corroborated by radar data that Gaetz claims to have exclusively observed. 

A pilot investigating the formation encountered a large floating orb, described as beyond any known human capability. Subsequently, the pilot experienced malfunctions in radar and forward-looking infrared (FLIR) systems, preventing proper documentation of the encounter.

Members of Congress, part of the so-called “UAP Caucus,” attempted to gather further information about the incident during a visit to Eglin Air Force Base but were met with resistance from the base commander.

While providing some clarity, the new Airborne Accident Investigation and Reporting Office (AARO) report also raises additional questions. The AARO report corroborated some of Gaetz’s claims, highlighting sensor failures during the encounter. 

Image credits: AARO

According to the report, inoperable video recording equipment thwarted the pilot’s attempt to film the event. AARO’s still imagery was likely captured using a phone camera.

Additionally, the radar malfunctioned upon nearing the object, remaining disabled for the duration of the training exercise. Despite previous instances of similar circuit breaker trips, technicians could not conclusively diagnose the cause of the fault.

However, the AARO report also pointed out limitations in data analysis, noting the lack of EO/IR (Electro-Optical/Infra-Red) systems data for other reported objects initially observed on radar. This absence hindered the AARO’s ability to analyze the incident fully.

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The report doesn’t specify the aircraft type flown by the witnessing pilot, though there have been suggestions it could have been an F-22 Raptor, stationed at Eglin since 2018. 

The F-22 lacks a built-in forward-looking infrared system, but the Air Force has tested pods with infrared search and track sensors. However, these aren’t operational yet and were unlikely to have been on board during the incident. 

Yet, the F-22s are fitted with the AN/AAR-56 Passive Missile Approach Warning System, which might be able to capture images of nearby targets.

Nonetheless, the report omitted any mention of the balloon’s origin. Over the past year, the Pentagon has taken a significantly more serious stance on the escalating security risks such balloons pose.

These concerns were exacerbated by the February 2023 incident involving downing a Chinese balloon, followed by the shootdowns of three other objects. These events vividly underscored the reality of the situation and ultimately compelled the US military to acknowledge a significant deficiency in domain awareness.