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UFOs and the governments of the USA and UK

Armen Victorian, Lobster Magazine, June 20, 2000

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: In Britain, Air Staff 2 (a), a desk in the Ministry of Defence, manned by junior civil servants such as Nick Pope, J. Palmer, Owen Hartop, Kerry Philpott, and Ralph Noyes, respond to public inquiries.

Rearchers who ask for pertinent records from the US Air Force about UFOs are provided with a 'Fact Sheet' which states that since the closure of Project Blue Book in 1974, the USAF has no interest in, and does not study, the subject. The USAF information pack refers inquirers to various non-governmental UFO research organizations which are closely monitored, and, at times, directed by various US intelligence and military agencies. (1)

The men from the Ministry

In Britain, Air Staff 2 (a), a desk in the Ministry of Defence, manned by junior civil servants such as Nick Pope, J. Palmer, Owen Hartop, Kerry Philpott, and Ralph Noyes, respond to public inquiries. The knowledge of these individuals is limited and their responses consequently sometimes inaccurate. Contrary to claims made by Air Staff 2 (a) that they are privy to all UFO reports, there is a component within the MOD which deals with more serious aspects of this subject. On October 23 1989, in the course of one of my investigations, I contacted this particular MOD section. After the preliminary conversation I was asked if I was prepared to sell my investigation report to them; and later in the course of the conversation, when I suggested sharing information, citing the national security aspects, I was asked if I was prepared to sign a security agreement concerning this issue. I was further asked to prepare a proposal and submit it to them. When I inquired about some landing reports, I was asked to specify the date of the particular cases I had in mind. Although this is a component of the MOD, it is not situated in Whitehall. Neither is it Defence Intelligence 55 (DI55), though sources within DI55 have been helpful in other investigations of mine.

Though several individuals in the UK who have witnessed serious UFO cases have been visited by government officials, the MOD has repeatedly denied the existence of such officials. Sometimes in uniform but mostly in civilian clothes, these officials have approached witnesses asking them not to discuss what they have seen with the public or the media. UFO folklore has termed them the Men in Black (MIB).

The section in charge of such investigations is Aerospace Intelligence within the MOD.

The MOD, and Air Staff 2(a) in particular, have been the chief focus of the search for British information on UFOs. But examination of the MOD's old files shows the absence of any Royal Navy reports. There is also a component within the Admiralty in charge of UFO cases reported at sea, about which researchers have little knowledge. I have also dealt with this component, though I do not know its name.

How the Department of Defense treats UFOs

Due to its size the US Department of Defence (DoD)does not have a single unit to handle UFO reports. Apart from the many departments known to UFO researchers run from the Pentagon, there is another component about which no public information is available. In the course of studying a serious UFO case from the former Soviet Union, I was advised by the National Reconnaissance Office(NRO) staff in the Pentagon to contact Pentagon House.(2)

Located outside the Pentagon, Pentagon House showed immense interest and I was asked to provide them with the raw material I had.

All the official records made public under the UFO title are unevaluated reports gathered through various human intelligence means. These reports always quote the term UFO, as it has been relayed to them by sources. Mostly these sources are civilians, unaware of the current official terminology used by the US government. The US military uses two main terms in compiling and studying the UFO subject: Uncorrelated Targets (UCT), for earth-bound unidentified objects, and Uncorrelated Event Reports (UER) for space related events. I wrote to North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, about their terminology. They replied:

'Historically, the term UFO was used by the Air Force starting in 1947 and ending in 1974 with the shelving of the "Blue Book" project. We all know what the term UFO means, we just don't use it.....The specific term "UFO" is not used by this command even though you could say that this term would equate to UTR [unknown track report], either an uncorrelated event or an unknown track, since an unidentified flying object could be considered either.(3)

Further, I was told, 'Uncorrelated Events Reports (UERs), which are space related events on the United States Space Command (USSPACECOM) side of the house, are always classified SECRET.' (4)

Uncorrelated Targets are categorised as:

Significant UCTs, Nonsignificant UCTs, Critical UCTs, and

False UCTs. (5)

Copies of any serious UCT event are sent to the Missions Systems Integration Board (MSIB). MSIB is composed of all NORAD and US Space Command directorates and senior level representatives from Naval Space Command, Army Space Command and Air Force Space Command. (6)

The regulations governing the UFO topic is USR 55-12, Space Surveillance Network (SSN) of June 1 1992, classified by multiple sources.

'This regulation provides policy and guidance for operations of the worldwide Space Surveillance Network (SSN). It applies to Headquarters US Space Command; the component commands, Headquarters Air Force Space Command; the Naval Space Command, and Army Space Command; the Space Surveillance Centre (SSC), the Alternative Space Surveillance Centre (ASSC); and the SSN sensors except RAF Fyling dales. RAF Fyling dales follows guidance specified in SR55-122/88771/1/GE(s), Joint USAF/RAF Operations Manual (JOM) Ballistic Missiles Early Warning System (BMEWS) Site III, RAF, England.' (7)

In conjunction with this regulation exists US Space Command Regulation 55-20, Warning Verification of Hostile Space Events, dated 31 January 1990, classified secret.

'This regulation establishes procedures to provide timely and accurate status reporting, warning and verification of hostile space events to National Command Authorities (NCA), collateral agencies, space system owners and operators, and defense forces from Headquarters, US Space Command, Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC).'

Although the US Space Command is the Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) '...for records relating to Uncorreletated Targets....the evaluations [of reports are] made by the Command Director and the Air Defense Operations Center of Cheyenne Mountain Air Station on the Unknown Track data'.(8)

The Air Defense Operations Center (ADOC) is a NORAD entity. (9)

All Unknown Track Reports (UTRs) are recorded on NORAD's Form 61, and kept for five years. Data from these files, in summary form, is sent to all relevant government agencies on a need-to-know basis. (10)

Obtaining such records is a legal impossibility because while 'the Aerospace Analysis Directorate [of US Space Command] does perform analysis on NORAD Unknown Track Reports....they perform their analysis under the auspices of their NORAD role, utilising a dedicated NORAD data base' - and NORAD is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. (11)


During the period January to August 1996 NORAD reported 23 Unknowns, some after scrambling interceptor fighters. For example, between January 2 and February 12 there were three scramble attempts, for three events. In two separate instances two F15s were scrambled and the subjects could not be identified. Similarly, on February 10 two F16s were scrambled but failed to identify the object. (12)

NORAD commented, 'Normally 80% of NORAD unknowns are identified. The remaining 20% continues to be called un-known and no further action is taken.' (13)

Another category of reports come from USAF personnel. These reports might be generated by using the International Urgency Signal, PAN, or by ground relay of airborne reports or post-landing reports using FLASH procedure, and are governed by Communication Instructions Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings(CIRVIS). These reports are maintained in places such as Tyndall Air Force Base (1st Air force), Elmendorf Air Force Base (11th Air force) and NORAD's Canadian headquarters in Ontario, Canada. These reports are compiled in accordance with the Air Force Manual, where it states:

'Report the following specific sightings:

  • Hostile or unidentified aircraft which appears directed against the United States, Canada, or their forces.
  • Missiles
  • Unidentified Flying Objects
  • Hostile Flying Objects
  • Hostile or Unidentified military surface missiles or sub-marines.'(14)

As to any specific terms adopted by NORAD in the course of pilot/radar control communication exchange for UFOs, the answer is 'Unknown Track'.(15)

I asked NORAD if the recovery of downed UFOs was within their jurisdiction - if so which particular teams, or components deal with it? If not, which other particular teams or components, and from which command has such authority? The answer was:'We do not deal with down unknowns, which you refer to as UFOs. Normally, local law enforcement officials and/or security personnel from the nearest military installation get involved with downed aircraft etc. until positive identification is made. Then the vehicle is turned over to its primary agency and/or organisation.'

In contrast to the MOD's repeated assertion that UFOs are not considered a threat to national security, for the US Government 'all unknown tracks are considered a possible threat until proven otherwise.'(16)

NORAD informed me that although there are no British forces assigned to NORAD facilities, 'the British Ministry of Defence does interface and cooperate with NORAD and the United State Space Command(USSPACECOM), on military space systems as they provide support to the warfighter.' (17)

Although 'there are no NORAD facilities outside the Continental United States (CONUS) and Canada....NORAD does receive classified data from England.' (18)


1. My archives contain several military intelligence records of unevaluated reports on UFO conferences and symposia. Most of the better known UFO organizations have deep, as well as casual, penetration by both military and intelligence agencies. This has been brought to my attention on several occasions by individuals who were assigned to such missions.

2. This information was made available to me prior to the declassification of the NRO in 1993.

3. NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command)letter to author 19 December 1995.

4. NORAD letter to author November 13 1995

5. US Space Command correspondence 28 April 1993 to author

6 US Space Command letter to author 7 April 1994

6. US Space Command letter to author 7 April 1994

7. US Space Command Regulation USR 55-12, Space Surveillance Network (SSN) June 1 1992

8. US Space Command correspondence with author, 21 July 1995.

9. Ibid. 'The North American Aerospace Defense command (NORAD) is a bi-national Command established by international agreement (33 United States Treaties 1277), and is subject to control by both US and Canadian executive agencies. It is not a US Government agency as defined in the ACT, and consequently, it is not subject to the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).'

10. NORAD letter to author 13 November 1995.

11. NORAD letter to author 24 August 1995.

12. Current NORAD records in the author's possession.

13. NR 55-1, Aerospace Reporting System has been revised and altered to 55-14, written by NORAD operators (Nj30G) in the Space Control Centre of Cheyenne Mountain Air Station. NORAD communications of 3 and 13 May 1994 to author.

14. Air Force Manual 10-206, September 1 1995, Operational Reporting, chapter 5, para 5.7.3

15. NORAD letter of 16 December 1995 to author

16. Ibid.

17. NORAD communication with author 17 March 1994

18. Ibid. NORAD also informed me that 'Russia's aerospace command is called the Strategic Rocket Forces, some aspects of their command is similar to NORAD and the USSPACECOM to include surveillance and tracking, early warning and related areas. But their command also includes operational control of all strategic and defensive ballistic missiles.'

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