EXCLUSIVE: Ex UFO chiefs claim their Pentagon bosses misled Congress by claiming a swarm of mysterious objects that buzzed around Navy ships in 2019 were mere drones – not a national security threat
- The former head of the government’s UFO task force Jay Stratton and his chief scientist Travis Taylor spoke about 2019 UFO sightings at AlienCon
- They said their investigation left them fearing Russia or China could have incredible drone technology and that it was a national security threat
- When the incident was recounted by their high-ranking Pentagon bosses to Congress last year, they said the mystery was solved and they were mere drones
The inside story of a 2019 UFO investigation by two top former intelligence officials was revealed in a jaw-dropping talk at a conference in Los Angeles.
The former head of the government’s UFO task force Jay Stratton and his chief scientist Travis Taylor spilled the secrets of their official probe into a swarm of objects that buzzed around a fleet of eight Navy ships off the US West Coast in July 2019.
Speaking at AlienCon in Pasadena on March 5, Stratton and Taylor said their investigation left them fearing Russia or China could have achieved incredible drone battery technology – or may have launched quadcopters from submarines that somehow evaded the Navy’s best radar just miles from the mainland.
But when the incident was recounted by their high-ranking Pentagon bosses to politicians and the public last year, it was presented as a very different story.
Former UFO chiefs spilled the secrets of their official probe into a swarm of objects that buzzed around a fleet of eight Navy ships off the US West Coast in July 2019
The former head of the government’s UFO task force Jay Stratton said his investigation into the 2019 UFO encounter left him fearing Russia or China could have achieved incredible drone battery technology
Dr. Travis Taylor (left) is a physicist who in 2019 served as the chief scientist for the government’s UFO office. He appeared at AlienCon as a guest speaker
In a historic hearing on UFOs held in May 2022, Stratton and Taylor’s boss Deputy Director for Naval Intelligence Scott Bray dismissed the footage, saying he was ‘reasonably confident’ the objects were drones
The world was watching with excitement on May 17, 2022 as military top brass briefed lawmakers in the first public Congressional hearing on UFOs in over 50 years.
Sitting in their break room 600 miles away in Huntsville, Alabama, the recently-retired Stratton and Taylor were dismayed at what unfolded next on their TV screen.
They saw their former bosses, Scott Bray, Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, and Ronald Moultrie, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, testifying to the House Intelligence Committee.
Bray played lawmakers a July 2019 video shot through a green night vision lens, of apparently triangle-shaped, flashing flying objects near the Navy’s USS Russell off the US West Coast.
The top Navy official then suggested that the case had been solved: the objects were drones, and their triangular shape was not real but merely an effect of the camera lens.
The footage was all too familiar to Stratton. He says he and Taylor had investigated that case, and used frames from video shot by sailors on deck in a 2020 briefing he compiled for senior officials – as an example of a genuine UFO case that created a national security issue.
But now he was seeing it explained away to lawmakers on national TV as potentially standard drones, albeit with a spooky lens artifact.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Taylor said he and Stratton were sitting in the lunchroom at their new employees, Radiance Technologies watching the hearing.
‘And when they start talking about the Russell incident, I was like ”We did not brief him that way. That is not what we told him.”
‘It really, really did upset both Travis and me when we were watching that hearing,’ Stratton added.
‘I would not have gone and briefed Congress that I believe these triangular shaped objects to be real … without my ducks in a row and the ability to answer any question thrown at me.’
The two men revealed the inside story of their 2019 Russell UFO investigation at a talk at AlienCon, a UFO conference near Los Angeles where they were guest speakers.
Whether or not the objects in the night vision videos were extraordinary, the sight of two former senior officials spilling the secrets on their government investigations at a civilian UFO event certainly was.
Still images from a video of the encounters show a spherical object diving into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California
Video showing an unidentified flying object splashing down into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego was corroborated by military radar which shows the USS Omaha being swarmed by aerial phenomena in July 2019. The image above shows nine unexplained objects – some of which were traveling at over 160mph
Several of the UFOs disappeared from radar. At one point, there were as many as 14 UFOs observed on the radar
Stratton told the audience at the Pasadena Convention Center that when they first got reports of the July 15 2019 Russell incident off the coast of San Diego, they leapt into action.
‘I got an email from the carrier strike group commander saying, ‘Jay, we’ve got some UAP’,’ he told the crowd, referring to the government lingo ‘Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena’.
‘I had a guy on board his carrier within a day, in order to start educating, start collecting data, start getting the folks talking, going to each ship in a helicopter, and bringing everything back to DC immediately.’
They claim that far from a simple case of a misidentified drone, it was a shocking event involving multiple US ships ‘swarmed’ by around 100 objects – some truly ‘triangle shaped’ – that flew for such long distances and times that they feared America’s adversaries had cracked breakthrough battery technology.
The incidents went on for hours, and were repeated throughout the month.
Stratton, a former senior Navy intelligence official with the equivalent rank of a two-star Admiral, said he had a high enough security clearance to determine that the objects were not US-operated.
‘We had a much bigger picture. When we were briefing the seniors, the briefing was very detailed and highly footnoted,’ he said.
‘I had access to other things. The Carrier Strike Group [Navy ships] has a multitude of sensors.
‘I had two other optical PhDs at other organizations look at this without even knowing the others looking at it, to keep it completely separate.’
Stratton added that Moultrie and Bray ‘just weren’t briefed and prepared to the level that I would have prepared them.’
‘It seemed odd,’ mused Taylor, the more bombastic of the pair, who speaks with a southern twang. ‘It felt like we’d been practicing all year, got to the playoffs, and lost 42-0. It was real weird and a kick in the gut.’
Taylor is a double-PhD physicist who was seconded to his role in the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF) from the Army in 2019.
In May 2022, the House Intelligence Committee held its first public hearing on UFOs in 54 years where panel members grilled Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray (left) and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie. Stratton said that Moultrie and Bray ‘just weren’t briefed and prepared to the level that I would have prepared them’
At the panel talk he emphatically slammed the theory that the ‘triangle objects’ shapes were distorted by the camera lens – or that they were just out of focus stars in the night sky, as famous UFO debunker Mick West has argued.
‘My first PhD was in optical science and engineering,’ he said. ‘I took the imagery and inverse fourier transformed it, and saw the one object that was moving isn’t a star, and it’s not out of focus completely, while the others are.
‘This guy is focusing the camera on the thing close to him that they’re seeing.
‘The thing up close does have some sort of triangular shape to it,’ he added. ‘But also when you do a heat analysis on it, you see it has bright spots on each corner. I don’t know what that is, I just know it had bright spots on each corner.’
In the days after the Congressional hearing, the Navy released briefing slides suggesting the craft were ‘Quadcopter style UAS [unmanned aerial systems]’ and likely came from a nearby Hong Kong-registered freight ship, the Bass Strait.
Navy documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show the crafts’ capabilities included hovering at altitudes of up to 21,000ft, flying for more than four hours, traveling long distances in one flight, and being apparently impervious to anti-drone Navy technology.
The USS Paul Hamilton took this photo on July 15, 2019, of the Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship, MV Bass Strait, which they believe was controlling drones flying over their vessel
Documentary filmmaker Jeremy Corbell claims he was shown a Navy intelligence briefing which included analysis of a craft spotted over the USS Russell on July 30, 2019 which he says described the objects as ‘pyramid in shape’
The Navy documents show the Hong Kong ship, Bass Strait, was docked in Long Beach, California, about 100 miles away when some of the incidents occurred – casting doubt on it as the source of the swarm.
Taylor told the audience at the UFO conference that he couldn’t talk much about the Bass Strait due to his government NDAs.
But he said what made the incident disturbing was that either the objects had incredible battery power outstripping the best US small drones, or they were launched near the ship from a vessel that avoided detection by the ultra-sophisticated radar of the Strike Group.
‘This was happening in an exercise area that was closed off. That means there’s no airplanes flying around, no ships moving around,’ he said. ‘Well, there was one, but we’re not going to talk about that.
‘We did an analysis on the best battery life cycle. If you put it in a quadcopter, or any other super-efficient, lightweight drone, and you flew it, you needed a place to have launched from that was close enough before the battery would have run out, and it would have been outside of the closed off area.
‘So one of the things we were concerned about was that one of our peers developed battery technology that we don’t have.’
‘Someone in the audience is probably thinking, maybe there’s a submarine out there,’ Stratton said. ‘If a foreign submarine got that close to the United States, then I failed at every job that I’ve ever had. Naval Intelligence would not have let that happen.’
‘We would have jumped to probably Defcon Four or Three at that point, and we didn’t,’ Taylor added.
The first videos from the July 2019 Russell incidents were released by documentary filmmaker Jeremy Corbell, who also appeared at AlienCon as a guest speaker
Stratton and Taylor were speaking out following an onslaught of criticism over their activities in the Task Force.
The two have been ridiculed for their involvement with Skinwalker Ranch, a rural Utah property where a previous incarnation of the Pentagon’s UFO unit called AAWSAP conducted investigations and reported absurd sightings including werewolves emerging from portals and creatures resembling the sci-fi character Predator.
Stratton was a member of AAWSAP, which ran from 2008 to around 2012. Taylor stars in a History Channel show, The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, involving zany science experiments and spooky incidents at the property, which was advertised heavily at the UFO conference.
Stratton continued to play a central role in successor Pentagon UFO programs, but distanced his government work from the ranch following the failure of AAWSAP to renew its contract, instead focusing on ‘nuts and bolts’ sightings of strange craft by military personnel and radar as head of the UAPTF from 2018 to his retirement in 2021.
But Taylor continued his role as a bootstrapping, hands-on scientist on the Skinwalker show, even while secretly working for Stratton in the official task force from 2019 through 2021.
‘As a science-minded guy it interested me. It pulls you in,’ Stratton told the AlienCon audience. ‘The ranch was part of [AAWSAP], but was not part of any of the follow-on efforts.’
International attention again focused on UFOs last month when US fighter jets shot down a Chinese spy balloon and three unidentified objects in American airspace.
The incidents highlighted a potential failure of the US military and intelligence services to adequately detect and deal with spy balloons and other espionage devices encroaching on our skies.
Stratton and Taylor have been ridiculed for their involvement with Skinwalker Ranch (pictured), a rural Utah property where a previous incarnation of the Pentagon’s UFO unit called AAWSAP conducted investigations and reported absurd sightings including werewolves emerging from portals and creatures resembling the sci-fi character Predator
On March 1, the Washington Examiner reported claims from anonymous government officials who said that Stratton and his office ‘co-opted reports of what were likely foreign espionage tools involving small balloons or drones in order to characterize them as extraordinary for purposes of personal bias.’
In their conference talk, the two men tried to shoot down the claims.
‘I led an effort to change the Aegis radar to be able to see UAS [unmanned aerial systems], quadcopters, because we would have missed that,’ Stratton said.
‘We had new things put into the fleet in order to try to detect and track these things.’
‘We told them that you couldn’t chase the balloons until you fix the damned radars,’ Taylor added.
‘It wasn’t that we wanted an alien spacecraft to be flying around. We worked for the military. We wanted to see why this was happening, why was there something where it shouldn’t be, and how can we figure out what it is and stop it?’
The first videos from the July 2019 Russell incidents were released by documentary filmmaker Jeremy Corbell, who also appeared at AlienCon as a guest speaker.
Corbell’s mentor and podcast co-host, Las Vegas investigative journalist George Knapp, secured the first televised interview with Stratton, and unmasked Taylor as the Task Force’s chief scientist.
‘Drone’ encounters off the coast of southern California
March 30, 2019
– USS Harpers Ferry reports as many as eight unknown drones flying directly over the ship at an altitude of about 500 feet, ‘conducting collection operations’.
April 24, 2019
– USS Zumwalt identifies six drones flying overhead in a ‘consistent pattern’ that did not alter ‘course, speed, or altitude.’
July 15, 2019
– USS Paul Hamilton is followed by drones for four hours from MV Bass Strait.
– USS Bunker Hill followed by 11 drones from MV Bass Strait.
– USS Ralph Johnson reports a suspected 14 drones surrounding it.
– USS Omaha catches at least nine objects on radar, and films a spherical object diving into the ocean on an infrared camera.
July 17, 2019
– USS Russell reports three suspected drones flying over it for an hour, from an unknown location.
July 21, 2019
– USS Paul Hamilton again reports drones ahead, this time believed to be ‘local fisherman operating personal quadcopters.’
July 25, 2019
– USS Gabrielle Giffords finds four drones overhead, and request help from the nearby USS Pinckney. Three small boats were nearby.
July 30, 2019
– USS Russell sees two groups of lights, containing five drones, over a period of about three hours. Communication was never established with the nearby pleasure craft.
– USS Paul Hamilton reports multiple drones overhead, some only 200 yards away.
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