Have the UFOs ever attacked the terrestrial crafts? After analyzing the crash of Kentucky Air National Guard pilot Captain Thomas F. Mantell in 1948 and a single-fatality P-51 military crash in the State of Oregon in the 1960s, the government concluded no nonterrestrial involvement. However, there are multiple incidents of dogfights between pilots and anomalous flying objects.
Among the encounters that military pilots have had with UFOs, the 1967 Cuban jet incident stands out. There is an authentic record of this incident in multiple government documents. In the early days of UFOlogy, the federal government did not allow people to talk about this incident.
The NICAP has an excellent archival record of the incident and multiple government documents obtained through the FOIA process suggest that it is not only an authentic report but that the federal government did not want anyone to talk about it in the early days of UFOlogical investigations. This became a significant issue for one investigator from the Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), who the authorities clearly felt was asking too many questions.
The story became known to the CAUS in the form of a statement by a security specialist who was assigned to the 6947th Security Squadron centered at Homestead Air Force Base, a unit of the U.S. Air Force Security Service (AFSS). The specialist attended a lecture in 1978 by nuclear physicist and UFO researcher Stanton T. Friedman and informed Friedman of the incident at the conclusion of the talk. Friedman asked for additional details, which were provided later in the form of a typed statement by the specialist.
One day in March 1967, the Spanish-speaking intercept operators of Detachment “A” heard Cuban air defense radar controllers report an unidentified “bogey” approaching Cuba from the northeast. The UFO entered Cuban air space at a height of about 10,000 meters (about 33,000 feet) and sped off at nearly Mach 1 (nearly 660 mph). Two MIG-21 jet fighters were scrambled to meet it.
Two MIG-21 fighters were sent to intercept the bull. Upon arrival, the pilots reported seeing “a bright metallic sphere with no visible signs or appendages” at 33,000 feet moving at about 660 miles per hour.
After an unsuccessful attempt to establish radio contact with the object, the Cuban air defense headquarters ordered the flight director to arm the missiles and destroy the target. The flight director replied by radio that he had spotted the target and was ready to defeat. Those were the last words the flight director ever heard.
A few seconds later, a shout was heard from his wingman on the second MIG, who said that the commander’s plane had exploded. He later corrected this description and said that the plane “disintegrated” in the air, and its wreckage fell into the ocean. The UFO then accelerated to “incredible speed,” climbed to an altitude of about 98,000 feet, and continued southwest towards South America.
An Intelligence Spot Report was sent to NSA headquarters since AFSS and its units are under NSA operational control. Such reports are standard practice in cases of aircraft losses by hostile nations. NSA is required to acknowledge receipt of such reports. But the 6947th’s Detachment “A” did not get one; so it sent a follow-up report.
Within hours, Detachment “A” received orders to ship all tapes and pertinent data to NSA and to list the Cuban aircraft loss in squadron files as due to “equipment malfunction.” At least fifteen to twenty people in the Detachment were said to be fully informed of the incident. Presumably, the data sent to NSA included direction-finding measurements that the NSA might later combine with other sites’ data to triangulate the location and altitude of the MIG-21 flight paths. If the AFSS equipment in Florida was sensitive enough, the UFO could have been tracked by its reflection on the Cuban ground and airborne radar.
Friedman sent the statement to Robert Pratt, a reporter who worked for the National Enquirer. Pratt, in turn, sent the statement to Robert Todd, CAUS Research Director, desiring to verify the accuracy of the story.
Todd sent information requests concerning the Cuban incident to the Air Force, CIA, NSA, and the Navy between February and July of 1978, all unsuccessful.
On July 28, 1978, Todd who was only 24 years old at that time had a visit from the FBI. Two agents from the agency knocked at his door. Todd’s mother opened the door and the agents asked her if they could speak to her son. Todd, who was aware of all the procedures, was soon under interrogation by those agents.
Todd and the two agents went into the living room. The two men read Todd his rights and then asked him to sign a paper that said it had been done.
Todd waived his right to silence because he felt that he did not have anything to hide. One of the men began to read the espionage laws, but Todd told them that he had already been familiar with them. They told Todd that the laws carry a penalty of life in prison or death. Both agents hinted at the possibility some indictments would be issued. It has also been strongly suggested that Todd’s phone was tapped.
At this point, no further action appeared to be taken, but the message sent to Todd was perfectly clear. Subsequent requests from CAUS to the Air Force about the status of any relevant FBI investigation received responses stating that they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any such documents.
But if they existed, they would be classified and in any case inaccessible. This incident remains one of the most intriguing potentially destructive interactions between UFOs and ground-based military aircraft in history.