Dec 31, 2017 I Paul Seaburn

Raytheon Brags About its UFO Tracking Capabilities

“Look at that thing, dude.”

This could be the most famous quote in ufology for the year 2017. “Look at that thing, dude” was uttered by a pilot on one of the two infamous videos released this month by parties identifying them as evidence of UFO encounters by U.S. military personnel. The “parties” are now in question, as the Department of Defense has backed off on saying it was involved in the release, and Luis Elizonso, the former head of the $22 million semi-secret UFO department called Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program and a current member of Tom DeLonge’s To The Stars Academy, was found to have previously stated that he was going to use the videos for pilot training. Nonetheless, there’s no question that pilots dispatched on November 14th, 2004, by the USS Nimitz saw things they could not believe.

“There’s a whole fleet of them. Look on the S.A.”

The “S.A.” this pilot was referring to is the synthetic aperture radar, which was picking up the objects. And that’s where Raytheon comes in. Instrumentation inside the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets is manufactured by this massive government contractor, including the most important part of this whole story – the Raytheon Advanced Targeting Forward Look Infrared sensor (ATFLIR) which was mounted under one of the fighters and captured the video which prompted the “Look at that thing, dude.”

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Raytheon ATFLIR (AN/ASQ-228)

Is Raytheon, normally pretty secretive about weapons contracts and equipment, upset to be linked to this UFO story?

“We might be the system that caught the first evidence of E.T. out there. But I’m not surprised we were able to see it. ATFLIR is designed to operate on targets that are traveling in excess of Mach 1. It’s a very agile optical system with a sensitive detector that can distinguish between the cold sky and the hot moving target quite easily.”

They’re not upset … they’re excited! At least Aaron Maestas, director of engineering and chief engineer for Surveillance and Targeting Systems at Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business, is. He is quoted on the company’s web site in an article entitled “The UFO Spotter: Navy Pilots Used Raytheon Tech to Track a Strange UFO,” which explains that ATFLIR (designated AN/ASQ-228 by the Navy) is a “single pod that combines mid-wave infrared targeting and navigation FLIRs, an electro-optical, or visual light, sensor, a laser rangefinder and target designator, and a laser spot-tracker. It can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet.”

Sounds impressive, but Dr. Steve Cummings, vice president of Technology Development and Execution at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems wants to see more data. His UFO spotter would have …

“Wide-area search of some form or another. I would want at least two sensors, like radar and [electro-optical/infrared], to search the skies...One way to actually verify these and be absolutely certain that this is not an anomaly is to get the same target, behaving the same way on multiple sensors.”

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USS Nimitz

So, despite the fact that 12 pilots and weapons system operators in six different planes, along with radar operators on the USS Princeton in the Nimitz fleet, saw the UFOs, Cummings wants the next generation of UFO hunters to have better equipment.

From Raytheon, of course.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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