Origin story riddle: Why did UFOs’ ostensible interest in our nuclear weapons development taper off following voluminous sighting reports in 1948-52?
OK. So. Finally. At long last. Round two of Capitol Hill’s UFO/UAP hearings, set for Wednesday morning. This one’s hosted by the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. Or SASCSETC. No Air Force uniforms on the witness stand (again). ☹ This time, according to another Doug Johnson scoop, we’ll be getting a progress report from the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) boss himself, Sean Kirkpatrick. And that, in turn, should if nothing else give us a glimpse into just how committed to this issue Kirkpatrick’s eclectic Senate audience really is. Can Tom Cotton and Elizabeth Warren really agree on something meaningful, like maybe what a stone wall looks like?
For researchers like Larry Hancock, anything’s gotta be an improvement over that exchange last May between the stoic brass and the certain members of the House Counterintelligence subcommittee. Like the part where Rep. Michael Gallagher started asking about UFO interactions with facilities “housing our strategic nuclear forces.” And the way the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security flung the writhing flatulent goo over to Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray. Poor Scott Bray.
“And when (Bray) goes, ‘I don’t know anything about that,’ I’m going, how could you all be studying this thing and know nothing about this?” says Hancock. “That’s troublesome.”
What Scott Bray actually said verbatim was this: “That data is not within the domain of the UAP Task Force.” Well played, son.
With any luck, next week’s hearing will provide a bit more drama than last year’s bellyflop in the House because the new AARO director will be answering to SASCSETC chair Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand has taken a personal interest in the UFO story and appears to have a healthy bullshit meter. Hard to know what Kirkpatrick will bring to the table, but in January, the former Chief Scientist at the DIA’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center briefed the Transportation Research Board with this slide-show presentation about the UFO project. Although no accompanying report has surfaced, the graphics are big on structural and data-sharing capabilities, mostly as they pertain to air safety. Not much, however, in addressing a demand Congress spelled out this way in its 2023 National Defense Authorization Act:
‘Beginning in 1945’
“The number of reported incidents, and descriptions thereof, of unidentified anomalous phenomena associated with military nuclear assets, including nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered ships and submarines.” Furthermore, the scope of the NDAA inquiry, nuclear and otherwise, should, according to Congress, “focus on the period beginning on January 1, 1945 …”
In 2019, a good three years before lawmakers began crafting this sort of accountability language, Hancock and research colleague Larry Cates decided to take an inventory themselves. In an effort that took years, not months, they employed open-source historical material to get a quantifiable handle on the relationship between UFOs and America’s deadliest strategic assets. And on April 4, the nonprofit Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies published the results in a 63-page paper, “Pattern Recognition Study 1945-75 U.S. Military Atomic Warfare Complex.” Spoiler alert: the story gets even more complex than it already is.
“I knew there were going to be some patterns, but I had no idea they were going to be as dramatic as they turned out to be,” says Hancock of the case logs amassed in the immediate aftermath of WWII. “We see this burst of activity during atomic development, and then suddenly it stopped, it went away, period. And it never recurred. And we didn’t see those kind of spikes again until we see them around ICBMs.
“There’s no good explanation for those total gaps, for their going away, other than maybe they learned what they needed to know, and then they moved on to something else. Unlike in a situation where you think you’re dealing with a potential adversary’s technology and you have to be looking at them constantly. This wasn’t that. It almost seems like this was more of a survey than a . . . preparation – let’s put it that way.
“Maybe that’s the good news.”
More on that in a moment. The SCU report lists five bylines, but Hancock says up to eight contributors joined the project at various points. They drew upon 590 officially unexplained incidents, using researcher Brad Sparks’ Comprehensive Catalogue of Blue Book Unknowns as a primary source. Secondary sources included the NICAP files and Strategic Air Command encounters compiled by Barry Greenwood and Lawrence Fawcett.
Swamped by mind-numbing data
“I’d say everybody involved worked something like eight to 10 hours a week, minimum, for 52 weeks, over three years. Hundreds of man-hours,” says Hancock. “We’d go way into the night trying to avoid duplication, doing reconciliation. And we scanned full NICAP chronologies for matches against what we were looking at, just to see if we’d missed anything. And we picked up, I’d say, two, three percent additional incidents.”
A Vietnam-era Air Force veteran with a longstanding interest in covert intrigues during the Cold War, Hancock has authored a number of related books, including Unidentified: The National Intelligence Problem of UFOs. Chief among the challenges was establishing study sites to compare with control sites. Study sites were broken down into three classes: atomic materials production plants, weapons assembly facilities, and nuclear weapons storage depots. Nearby civilian population centers and high-security non-atomic military bases were used as controls. And there were plenty of headaches in developing parameters within those subsets.
“You get into co-located facilities like in New Mexico, where you’ve got Kirtland Air Force Base, which was a staging point for SAC aircraft, and right across the barbed wire fence is Sandia Labs, which is assembling these weapons and stockpiling them,” Hancock says. “So, how do we segment the reports to see if we can put them in one place or the other?”
The SCU team was also hampered by flaws and inconsistencies inherent in postwar records keeping and information chains. Not to mention the classified reports that have never seen the light of day.
“Within the data collections,” they wrote, “there are no reports from any (Armed Forces Special Weapons Project) staff located at the (Atomic Energy Commission) national stockpile sites and no reported UAP events recorded by the Air Force or Project Bluebook by the AFSWP or AEC. In fact, the existence and location of those sites (overseen by the AFSWP) is not mentioned in Air Force Intelligence UAP studies nor is it referenced in the Blue Book history.”
Maybe we bored them to death
Yet, despite the obstacles, mountains of existing evidence made a few things clear. “Anomalous levels of UAP activity were most noticeable at the earliest facilities in each class, including Hanford, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Sandia, and Killeen (Texas),” wrote the authors. The 1948-51 time frame was huge for UFO activity, “as numbers of first fission and then fusion weapons were tested and then produced for stockpiling.”
Following a major wave in 1952, sighting reports over the Q sites (nuclear) appeared to have dropped off a cliff, even as UFO incidents over civilian and non-nuclear military bases continued. “The anomalous patterns during the years prior to 1952 were never repeated,” states the SCU report, “despite the surge in air defense radar and interceptor deployment of the 1950s and 1960s.”
Elevated activity resumed – although not on par with 48-51 – over strategic missile sites in 1966-67, and again in the autumn of 1975. “In military context,” the authors write, “the newly developed missiles were equipped with multiple independent reentry vehicle type warheads, which dramatically increased the number of hydrogen weapons that could be launched at a single time.”
Although the titular timeline of the SCU project covers 30 years of data beginning in 1945, the study technically begins in 1943, when UFOs overflights were reported at the plutonium factory in Hanford, Washington.
“A lot of people say, well, obviously there would be a lot of interest in a civilization that exploded the bomb,” says Hancock. “But this occurred well before the bomb went off. Now, there’s always a problem with projecting your own behavior against someone else’s, but it certainly looks like there was some monitoring in place – the sort of monitoring, quite frankly, that we did with Germany during the war when we collected water and air samples to see how their own bomb project was coming along.”
Can we do better than lists?
“It should be noted,” adds the SCU report, “that one well established technique for identifying atomic weapons development facilities involves profiling specific physical and security characteristics which allow their identification. Those characteristics include large-scale power requirements at isolated locations, large water supplies and extensive construction of special facilities for radioactive materials transportation and disposal (including large numbers of waste tank structures).
“Such profiles were routinely used in American high altitude and satellite surveys to locate radioactive materials facilities in the Soviet Union, China, India, and Iran. The Hanford site would be especially visible in such surveys due to its location on the Columbia River in a flat, strictly agricultural area of Washington state.”
SCU’s “UAP Pattern Recognition Study” even describes an incident from April 1949 in which an Army patrol attached to the nuke storage depot at Killeen Base “sighted a small light which appeared to have a metallic cone trailing behind it.” Hancock likens it to an air sampling bag.
“So far, what I’ve seen in terms of government inquiries is getting back to just what Blue Book did – we’ll collect individual incidents, we’ll look at it, maybe as a balloon or a drone or maybe an unknown and then we’ll publish another list,” Hancock says. “You get no assessment, it’s not really an intelligence study.
“In all honesty, that’s what (former Blue Book director USAF captain Edward) Ruppelt was trying to do in 1952 with Air Force intelligence, to get the CIA and the national security community to do a strategic intelligence study. And that’s what’s so frustrating, to see people talking like we’re dealing with something new, but we’re not.”
With UFO characteristics – shapes, sizes, colors, performance capabilities – largely unchanged from half a century ago, Hancock questions the value of collecting repetitious data. If our objectives include ascertaining the phenomenon’s intentions, maybe the best way to do that is to study its response to the testing and deployment of next-gen weapons tech. Surely that data exists, he says. But you’ve gotta look for it, and the search for patterns is obviously labor intensive.
“Is there a new generation of strategic weapons?” Hancock wonders. “What was the first Navy ship that could actually bring down a satellite? How are they reacting to the next generation of space-borne surveillance? Shouldn’t we be looking at incidents related to them as an extension of what’s been going on at ICBM sites? You don’t need to classify all this stuff; at this point, anything that’s not hypersonic is probably old news.”
Let’s see what AARO tells the SASCSETC about it.
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“Is there a new generation of strategic weapons?” Hancock wonders.
Any laser weapon should attract attention from aliens as no tech. in the universe can outrun a light beam. Ground-based or ship-based facilities maybe are being watched by the US for sightings.
Actually, just had a thought that just before the STS-48 shuttle UAPs (Sept. 15 1991) moved off at high speed in the video there was a flash then just after some sort of projectile (not a laser) seemed to go through the point where the so-called "main object" was - I recall the analysis by physicist Prof. Jack Kasher on this who showed the objects had to be in space and moving fast. Was this an alien/alien attack or human/alien? If ours what weapons do we have 30 years later?
Thanks for article Billy, fascinating that it seems there are trends in the observations they have of the facilities.
We don't know what the reason(s) may be behind apparent observations of nuclear facilities. I doubt that nukes cause problems beyond the Earth (as some claim). Perhaps it's an interest in the development and use of fissionable materials by primitive societies, or perhaps the nuclear age represents one of the most dangerous periods for any evolving civilisation (given how close we've come to WWIII).
Climate change appears to be a similar threat to human progress, but doesn't share the narrow focus points of secret bases.
If we do reach the point of acknowledging a non-human presence in the atmosphere and oceans, then when do we consider a presence on the ground?