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'Paris Match' Article on Belgium UFO

Marie-Theresa De Brosses, Paris Match

original source |  fair use notice


The Belgium Defense Minister authorized us to publish this report. It is the "scoop of the sky." These two screens (see photos) [The article is referring to two photos of the radar screens in the F-16 which are derived from an internal recording device in the plane. Photo one shows the UFO as a diamond on the screen framed by short vertical lines indicating that the pilot has instructed the computer to follow the target. The comparison of the two photos supports statements by the pilots that the UFO dove from 2,000 meters (7,000 ft) to 00, indicating that it was below the 200 meter limit on the radar. This occurred in ONE second.] are the incontestable witnesses of a meeting of science & fiction. In an unprecedented action, the Belgium Air Force has released pictures of the radar images of UFOs intercepted by the pilots of their F-16 fighters. It was the precision and clarity of the pictures that convinced the Defense Minister to order full resources deployed in the gigantic chase of the UFO during the Easter weekend. PARIS MATCH takes you behind the symbols and numbers of these exceptional pictures to discover the incredible performance of those flying objects which are very real but nonetheless unidentified. We may not be the only ones in the universe.

There are people in the military services who are normally silent on this subject but who now say: the UFOs are not a myth. On June 22nd, for the first time in history, an Air Force revealed an important piece of this story which is not science fiction.

On this day, after going through a meticulous security screening, I find myself in the headquarters of the Belgium Air Force near Brussels. In a small room, Colonel DeBrouwer, Chief of Operations of the Belgium Air Force, started a video tape recorder. On the screen appeared the film that was brought back in the "black box" of the F-16 that was launched to chase the UFO. This, it turned out, was not really the important chase, which would happen two weeks later, when practically all of Belgium tried to capture the UFO. But until now we were not told about the one Colonel DeBrouwer was about to describe.

The Belgium military had been on alert since November 1989, when numerous reports by the Gendarmerie (National police force) began pouring in daily telling of observations of UFOs above Belgium territory. It had started on the crazy night of November 29, 1989, during which 30 groups of witnesses, among them three police patrols, scattered over 800 square kilometers of territory between Liege and the German/Netherlands border, reported UFOs. All of the witnesses observed for hours a strange triangular object nearly silent, maneuvering at low speed and very low altitude, without creating the least amount of turbulence.

As do the world's Air Forces, the Belgian military have at their disposal supersonic interceptor airplanes ready 24 hours a day to take off with five minutes notice. In this case we are talking about two F-16 single pilot fighters, armed with missiles. Headquarters was prudent and conservative. During the previous month the two planes have twice been sent in response to sightings but without results. The first time they saw nothing. The second instance was attributed to an advertising searchlight for a night club.

On the night of March 30th, one of the callers reporting a UFO was a Captain of the national police at Pinson, and Headquarters decided to make a serious effort to verify the reports. In addition to the visual sightings, two radar installations also saw the UFO. One radar is at Glons, southeast of Brussels, which is part of the NATO defense group, and one at Semmerzake, west of the Capitol, which controls the military and civilian traffic of the entire Belgian territory. The range of the two radars is 300 KM, which is more than enough to cover the area where the reports took place. In this region the land is fairly flat, rolling country without any prominent hills. The radar has a perfect view of all flying objects with an altitude above 200 meters over the ground. Nevertheless, Headquarters determined to do some very precise studies during the next 55 minutes to eliminate the possibility of prosaic explanations for the radar images. Excellent atmospheric conditions prevailed, and there was no possibility of false echoes due to temperature inversions.

All military and civilian airplanes are equipped with a device called a transponder which permits their immediate identification on the radar screen in the form of a coded signal. The radar echo received on that night was like that of an airplane that was moving at very low speed, about 50 KPH, and frequently changing direction and altitude. But it did not send any identifying transponder signal.

Naturally, the Belgian Air Force can't permit an unidentified object to fly over its territory. So at 0005 hours the order was given to the F-16s to take off and to find the intruder. The lead pilot concentrated on his radar screen, which at night is his best organ of vision. The F-16 is equipped with very sophisticated equipment, including chase radar, which is not fixed directly ahead of the airplane, but makes a wide search in an arc of 90 degrees left and right of the nose. Slightly behind the lead fighter, the wingman in the second F-16 followed the movements of the first jet, concentrating on maintaining contact with the center of coordination of the search.

Suddenly the two fighters spotted the intruder on their radar screens, appearing like a little bee dancing on the scope. Using their joy sticks like a video game, the pilots ordered the onboard computers to pursue the target. As soon as lock-on was achieved, the target appeared on the screen as a diamond shape, telling the pilots that from that moment on the F-16s will remain tracking the object automatically. On the screen is indicated the object's position, distance and speed. The object was very close to the fighters.

On this portion of the video tape that Col. DeBrouwer has, in such an exceptional manner, allowed us to see, we can hear the radio exchange of the two pilots. The emotions of the pilots are clearly perceptible. "Look," the Colonel tells me stopping the VCR, and showing me the diamond shape on the screen, "At this stage in the chase in our military jargon it means a successful interception."

Then I said, in layman's terms, what does a "successful interception" mean? He answered, "Our fighter planes are armed with automatically self-directed missiles. Once they are launched internal computers in the missiles intelligently guide the missiles to the target by themselves. Of course, in this case of the UFO there was no question of doing that. We only wanted to identify the intruder."

The pilot did not even have time to start this procedure, which requires the fighter's radar to stay locked on for at least six seconds. But the object had speeded up from an initial velocity of 280 KPH to 1,800 KPH, while descending from 3,000 meters to 1,700 meters...in one second! This fantastic acceleration corresponds to 40 Gs. [A "G" is a unit of acceleration. One G is equivalent to the gravitational pull of the earth, 9.81 m/sec/sec.] It would cause immediate death to a human on board. The limit of what a pilot can take is about 8 Gs. And the trajectory of the object was extremely disconcerting. It arrived at 1,700 meters altitude, then it dove rapidly toward the ground at an altitude under 200 meters, and in doing so escaped from the radars of the fighters and ground units at Glons and Semmerzake. This maneuver took place over the suburbs of Brussels, which are so full of man-made lights that the pilots lost sight of the object beneath them.

"In any event, it was out of the question for the F-16 to catch up with the object at this low altitude, where the density of the air limits the speed to 1,300 KPH. Above that speed, the temperature in the compressors of the jet turbines would cause the engines to burst," said Col. DeBrouwer. "There was a logic behind the motions of the object."

Everything indicates that this object was intelligently directed to escape from the pursuing planes. During the next hours the scenario repeated twice. The Commander of the Belgian Air Force gave me a detailed report which had been produced by the Belgian Society For The Study of Special Phenomena (Sobeps) in cooperation with the Air Force. The report states: "In three cases the pilots managed to get their radar locked on the object, with the immediate result that the object's behavior drasticallychanged. The object literally played hide and seek with the fighters. It dived toward the ground to evade the airborne and ground radars. Then it climbed back into radar range in a leisurely manner, thus initiating a new chase.

This fantastic game of hide and seek was observed from the ground by a great number of witnesses, among them 20 national policemen who saw both the object and the F-16s. The encounter lasted 75 minutes, but nobody heard the supersonic boom which should have been present when the object flew through the sonic barrier. No physical damage was reported. Given the low altitude and the speed of the object, many windows should have been broken.

So, for the first time in history, a newspaper reporter was allowed to see a document which established proof of an interception of a UFO by a military fighter. I have seen on the video screen the flight maneuvers and the extraordinary changes in speed of the UFO.

All the details of this affair are related in the report which has just been released by Sobeps. This collaboration between the Air Force of a nation and a private research group is without precedent and must be taken very seriously. Also, the competence of the civilian researchers is worthy of trust. This group includes several scientists with excellent credentials such as physicist Leo Brenig, Professor at the University of Brussels and August Meesen, Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, who has belonged to Sobeps since its creation 18 years ago. On a television interview, Mr. Guy Coeme the Minister of Defense, declared that he had authorized the AIr Force to release all information at their disposal to Sobep.

After having seen this dramatic sequence, I posed a number of questions to Col. DeBrouwer. First, could the object have been a radiosonde balloon?

"No, the object acted as if it was totally independent of the winds, and we have done, among other things, a complete review of meteorological conditions. This is why we did not publish the report until now. We wanted to do a complete study to verify all aspects of the case. Our military defense system is not prepared for this sort of thing. We had to analyze and interpret the data from the recording inside the fighters."

Is it a natural phenomenon, or perhaps the debris from rockets or satellites or space junk? "No, a meteorite or a fragment of a rocket does not enter the atmosphere in a zig zag fashion. The analysis of the radar traces showed numerous changes in direction, and the atmospheric conditions that prevailed precluded any electromagnetic phenomenon as the cause."

But I asked how about the famous F-117 the American Stealth airplane, which many people think may be responsible? "This airplane is absolutely designed for penetration at low altitude. On the other hand it has a minimum speed of 278 KPH and the UFOs speed went down to 40 KPH. The F-117 does not have engines that can be tilted down for very slow speed flight. Also no airplane is capable of flying at 1,800 KPH or so low to the ground without creating a sonic boom."

Then he gave me a telex sent by the Military Attache of the U.S. Ambassador to the Commander of the Belgian Air Force confirming that the Stealth airplane was never stationed on European territory nor did it ever fly over that territory. Professor Jean Pierre Petit accompanied me in my visit to the Belgian Air Force Headquarters. He once served as a controller for jet interception exercises. Petit is a senior physicist and a director of research with the National Center for Scientific Research of France. He has recently published a book entitled "Investigation of UFOs," published by Editions Albin Michel, and makes this strong statement:

"In reality, there is no machine made by man either an airplane or a missile that is capable of such performance. Specifically, flying at the speed of sound without making a sonic boom. What degree of confidence can we place on this statement? The same as that in Astrophysics connected with the first detection of a Supernova in 1987 in the Magellanic Clouds galactic group. Proof of the existence of this stellar cataclysm we call a Supernova relies on this single unique observation. I am completely convinced that this type of UFO observation by radar has already happened many times over the past 30 years either by means of the sophisticated radar of the F-16 which is typical of that used by the world's air forces for the past ten years or before that by conventional radar. And those countries who have had radar contacts have kept the fact in strict secrecy to avoid public panic."

But what is happening right now, what is the reason for this sudden revelation of the truth?

"We are living in a time that is the beginning of a period of openness. First the Berlin Wall Crumbled, now the wall of silence about UFOs is falling. Concerning the UFOs we are entering a phase completely different from the earlier ones. It is the end of commercialism and fakery. The true scientists are finally making their appearance. Look at the work of Professor Meesen."

"Sobeps has collected more than one thousand eyewitness reports from the UFO wave over Belgium. One report is especially interesting. On the night of March 31, at a location 30 KM southeast of Brussels, three completely reliable witnesses had a sighting. They were Lucien Clerebaut, Secretary General of Sobeps, Patrick Ferrym, a Moving Picture Producer, and Jose Fernandez. They observed a bright luminous light low on the horizon. The light got bigger and closer, and was seen to be an object of triangular form with rounded angles. It was carrying four spotlights and the periphery of the object had numerous smaller lights around it. As it passed over their heads at an altitude which they estimated to be 300 to 400 meters, the object had a diameter six times that of a full moon. Mr. Ferrym took four pictures of the object with a very high sensitivity film with an ASA of 1,600. As a control he photographed an ordinary airplane several minutes later, using the same shutter opening and speed."

"When the film was developed he got a surprise. The position lights of the airplane were clearly shown on the pictures. But the `spotlights' on the UFO, which to the naked eye had been much stronger than the lights on the airplane, were hardly discernible. The general form of the UFO, which had also been clearly visible, was lost on the film. It should be noted that the UFO was also much closer to the observers than the airplane."

Recalling that a simple infrared ray can prevent some films from being exposed, Professor Meesen performed an experiment in his laboratory. Using a prism, he projected directly on unexposed film a spectrum of light, going from red to purple, superimposing an infrared ray on the lower part of the negative. When the film was developed, the spectrum of light is perfectly visible in the portion of the film untouched by the infrared ray but considerably attenuated, though not completely annihilated, where the infrared light struck the film."

The Professor continued, "If the UFOs are really a physical object, and if they propagate infrared light, it would be quite normal that photographs would contain some surprises when they were developed. This could include the total disappearance of the object that had been observed visually. This would explain the very low number of pictures that we have received in this UFO wave as well as the failure to get close up pictures.

Professor Meesen remained very conservative. As a good disciple of the famous scientist Claude Bernard, he is faithful to the Scientific Method, which consists of observing facts, then proposing hypotheses to explain the facts and finally accomplishing experimental verification of the hypotheses. To him it is absolutely essential to study this enigmatic file of UFO reports: "There are too many independent eyewitness reports to ignore. Too many of the reports describe coherent physical effects and there is an agreement among the accounts concerning what was observed. If all of these witnesses are lying, then it is a mental disease of such novelty and proportions that it must be studied. But of course there are also physical effects. The Air Force report allows us to approach the problem in a rational and scientific way. The simplest hypothesis is that the reports are caused by extraterrestrial visitors, but that hypothesis carries with it other problems. We are not in a rush to form a conclusion, but also to study the mystery."

When I first met Prof. Meesen, he had not yet seen the document that was shown to me by Col. DeBrouwer. This was the Belgian Air Force report on the successful interceptions of March 30, which allowed us to understand why the military had placed at the disposal of Sobep such facilities as the F-16 interceptors and a twin engine Hawker airplane. The Hawker could carry a large number of researchers and many measuring devices, including an enormous infrared camera. During this eventful weekend, which drew in tens of thousands of witnesses, the military had put top priority on the UFO, but was remaining silent. They wanted to know more before speaking.

The press was astonished by the "unsuccessful" hunt on this Easter weekend. But it is all clear now. We could not say that the UFO did not actually meet us, because there were many observations from the ground. But if the device had stayed under 200 meters in altitude, it would have been undetectable by radar.

Now the sightings have dribbled off, the witnesses rarer and rarer. But the questions still remain. How disconcerting this wave of UFO sightings over Belgium! First of all, why Belgium? Why these thousands of witnesses in a six month period? In previous decades witnesses often described landings, but why were there no landing reports? Why the triangular shape of the UFO, reported by more than 90% of the witnesses? At the moment, all of these are questions without an answer.

"For us, the release of this report by the Belgian Air Force and the confidence in us that it bespeaks is the reward for 18 years of work," concluded Lucien Clerebaut of Sobeps.

Regardless of the frustrating irregularity of this phenomenon (waves of sightings mixed with long periods of absence), and regardless of the sarcasms of those scientists who are violently hostile to this kind of investigation which they consider to be a sort of scientific disease, a few eminent scientists such as Professors Meesen, Brenig and Petit continue their methodical work.

Now is the time to help them.

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Belgium UFO Sightings