MYSTERY WIRE — Military and intelligence officials say they remain baffled by unusual, unidentified aircraft that have been encountered in recent years off both coasts of the United States.

Many of the objects have been referred to as drones, but that is not what Pentagon investigators have been telling the chain of command behind the scenes.

Naval Air Station Oceana is the center of airpower on the east coast of the United States. It is a sprawling naval air station in Virginia, home to the best aviators in the world.

Since at least 2014, F-18 pilots flying into the zone designated W-72 have reported encounters with a bizarre array of unknown, unidentified objects and aircraft, positioned directly in their daily flight paths.

You can zoom in and out of the FAA VFR sectional chart below by holding in your Ctrl key while rolling your mouse wheel. The zone mentioned above can bee seen in the lower right corner of the chart. You can also download the chart here (.pdf – 108 mb)

Investigators with the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force have requested that airmen try to document their encounters.

On March 4th, 2019, one of them did.

An F-18 weapons systems officer (WSO) seated behind the pilot used his iPhone to capture images of three different objects he encountered in the same airspace.

At 3:02 p.m. he photographed an odd shaped object. Another photo, taken close to the same time, was first posted to twitter on May 11, 2020, then again on social media 6 months later.

Other photos taken on the same day; March 4th, 2019 have never been made public until now.

The object the Navy calls the “Sphere” was photographed at 2:44 p.m.

The second one to be photographed was dubbed the “Acorn.” A similar, but different photograph of this same object was published online in December 2020.

Then, 12 minutes later, the WSO spotted a third object,  described as the “Metallic Blimp.” It appears to have various appendages. 

Mystery Wire first learned of the photos exactly two years ago during a private briefing hosted by Robert Bigelow and several others in Las Vegas on Saturday, April 6, 2019.

Speculation at the time was that the objects might be foreign spy drones, possibly Chinese, and we’ve learned the Navy wanted to “snag one,” meaning capture it for study. That never happened.

Critics tried to explain away the objects. Several people online compared the Acorn to a toy Batman balloon. But two years later, after careful study by the UAP Task Force, the objects remain unidentified.

Although these three did not perform spectacular maneuvers like the famed Tic Tac or Gimbal UFOs recorded elsewhere, they do not behave like any drones or balloons known to the U.S. military.

Mystery Wire has learned of sensitive briefings prepared by the UAP Task Force and delivered to multiple military and intelligence audiences.

The Task Force reports noted that the objects were able to remain stationary in high winds, with no movement, beyond the capability of known balloons or drones.

Official portrait of Adm. Mike Gilday, 32nd Chief of Naval Operations. (U.S. Navy photo/Released

Earlier this week, Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday was questioned by reporters about naval encounters on the west coast. Swarms of so-called drones buzzed Navy warships in July 2019, a few months after the east coast photographs were taken.

The admiral said information has been collected and analyzed but the objects have defied explanation. In March, the former National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe told Fox News that he was one of many top officials to be briefed on the mystery craft.

John Ratcliffe, Fmr. Director of National Intelligence

“We are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain,” Ratcliffe said. “Movements that are hard to replicate that we don’t have the technology for. Or traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.” 

The so-called drone swarms that buzzed Navy destroyers in 2019 have been further documented in articles by The Drive, which obtained ships logs describing the weird incursions.  Those encounters appeared in the same general area as the 2004 Tic Tac UFO which was pursued by former Navy Commander Dave Fravor.

Fravor has reportedly briefed Congress about his encounter, one of several briefings arranged by the UAP Task Force, even before it existed under that name.

Unlike previous decades, when the UFO topic was ignored or hushed up by Pentagon leaders and Congress, Fravor thinks there are solid reasons for the Pentagon’s now-deadly serious interest. “We haven’t been attacked or anything like that,” Fravor said. “But I look at it for two reasons. One, if there’s a capability, we can’t explain it. Number two, if you can explain it, then you can literally change everything that we do.”

Mystery Wire has reached out to the Pentagon for comment on these images and will update this story if needed.

UDPATE: The Pentagon did respond Friday, April 9 for a request to comment on the images and video. A Pentagon spokesperson sent Mystery Wire the following statement:

“I can confirm that the referenced photos and videos were taken by Navy personnel. The UAPTF has included these incidents in their ongoing examinations. As we have said before, to maintain operations security and to avoid disclosing information that may be useful to potential adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examinations of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP.”