"Foreign Aerospace Threats", "Emerging and Disruptive Technologies", "Potential Capabilities", "Technological Surprise".....
AAWSAP and AATIP Dwarfed by the Air Force's Massive National Air and Space Intelligence Center
For over a year, the so-called “UFO community”, and the wider population in general, has been consuming a constant diet of frequently startling information regarding a 2007 to 2013 partnership of American military intelligence programs that were largely based at America’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). Managed first by a James T. Lacatski, and then by a Luis Elizondo, the larger, more formal of the two was known as the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Application Program (AAWSAP). The smaller, less solidified program was known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat and Identification Program (AATIP). These efforts, from what we know thus far, analysed unexpected aerospace threats, breakthrough physics, associated foreign developments, and even the possible application and use of next generation principles in America’s military apparatus. Also studied, at least within AATIP, was the issue of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO). In fact, the more we find out about the entire AAWSAP/AATIP affair, the more it seems that the study of the core UFO phenomena very much overlapped with the investigation of these foreign aerospace developments, emerging technologies, and cutting-edge physics. For the purposes of this piece, it is paramount that we look at some of the precise wording contained in the available information on the AAWSAP/AATIP saga.
An 18th of August, 2008, DIA solicitation for tenders regarding work on AAWSAP included this passage in Attachment One:
An 18th of August, 2008, DIA solicitation for tenders regarding work on AAWSAP included this passage in Attachment One:
“One aspect of the future threat environment involves advanced aerospace weapon system applications. The objective of this program is to understand the physics and engineering of these applications as they apply to the foreign threat out to the far term, i.e., from now through the year 2050. Primary focus is on breakthrough technologies and applications that create discontinuities in currently evolving technology trends. The focus is not on extrapolations of current aerospace technology. The proposal shall describe a technical approach which discusses how the breakthrough technologies and applications listed below would be studied and include proposed key personnel that have experience in those areas.”.
Just over a year later, a letter from Senator Reid, dated the 24th of June, 2009, which was sent to the Deputy Secretary of Defence, stated:
“Beginning this past September , the US Senate has mandated the Defense Intelligence Agency assess far-term foreign advanced aerospace threats to the United States... …In order to further our efforts in recognising emerging disruptive aerospace technologies…”.
In May, 2018, Swedish researcher Roger Glassel engaged in a series of email communications with Major Audricia Harris who was based at the DoD Headquarters in Washington DC. On the 3rd of May, Glassel received an email from Major Harris which confirmed the existence of the AATIP effort, and, presumably referencing some of the aforementioned Senator Reid letter, further stated that AATIP’s mandate was to:
“…assess ‘far-term foreign advanced aerospace threats the United States’, including anomalous events (such as sightings of aerodynamic vehicles engaged in extreme manoeuvres, with unique phenomenology, reported by U.S. Navy pilots or other credible sources)…”.
During a “To The Stars Academy” (TTSA) press conference, dated the 11th of October, 2017, Elizondo stated:
“However, by far the most interesting effort I was involved with was the topic of advanced aerial threats. For nearly the last decade, I ran a sensitive aerospace threat identification program focusing on unidentified aerial technologies”.
Obviously, some commentators keenly noted that much of the available information regarding AAWSAP/AATIP has centred around the aforementioned subjects of “far-term aerospace threats”, “breakthrough technologies”, “threat identification”, and “emerging” or “disruptive” foreign aerospace developments. These tantalising phraseologies aren’t just repeated loosely or occasionally. There is consistency and purpose to much of what has been released. Moreover, some critics have effectively proclaimed that it should be no surprise whatsoever that someone, somewhere, in America’s military-intelligence community would be looking into foreign or threatening aerospace developments, or emerging aerospace technologies. This is entirely true, but the notion that such investigations could be solely handled by just one single under-resourced person, who in this case was DIA employee and AAWSAP/AATIP manager Luis Elizondo, is of course preposterous. Even with outside contractual assistance, the workload would be insurmountable.
Students of the UFO topic are well aware that the United States Air Force’s (USAF) old UFO investigation programs, like Project Sign and Project Blue Book, were largely placed within the old Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC), and its successor, the Foreign Technology Division (FTD). Based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, these entities served as the USAF’s focal point for technology development and technical intelligence. Importantly, this included the assessment of foreign aerospace systems and the exploitation of foreign hardware. In other words, the UFO problem was being handled at precisely the same location as where ever more advanced military technology was being developed, and where breakthroughs were being made on foreign capabilities. This organisation, after numerous name changes, exists today as the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC). Knowing already that some of NASIC’s core mission seemed like that of a portion of what AAWSAP/AATIP apparently did, I wanted, at first, to demonstrate that NASIC may have been doing what AAWSAP/AATIP did, albeit on a much larger scale. Further, when I began reviewing official documentation and other reasonable sources of information, it became evident that AAWSAP/AATIP and Elizondo frequently use identical language to that of NASIC and its recent predecessors.
NASIC, like its predecessors, is based at Wright-Patterson AFB, and serves as one of America’s premier intelligence organisations. According to the “AboutUs” section of NASIC’s website, the organisation is the Defence Department’s “…primary source for foreign air and space threats…” information. Further, NASIC creates “…integrated, predictive intelligence in the air, space and cyberspace domains…”. With over three thousand staff, NASIC’s mission ensures that “…the nation is at the cutting edge of understanding foreign threats to US air and space operations…”, and their “…all-source analysts are national experts on threats that span air, space, and cyberspace domains…”. Quoting from a July, 2017, booklet, titled “NASIC: An Overview”, which was published by their Public Affairs office, NASIC’s responsibilities include the generation of “classified intelligence products” to assist the US military in “…evolving with, and combatting, future air and space threats…”. Further, a 2014-era USAF “Order of Battle” volume, titled “USAF/AFHRA Order of Battle: National Air and Space Intelligence Center”, states that NASIC “…aids in shaping national and defense policy…” and plays “…a key role in ensuring that US forces avoid technological surprise…”.
NASIC is currently and directly assigned to the USAF’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AS/A2). Earlier, from June, 2007, to September 2014, NASIC was assigned to the USAF’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA). NASIC’s contemporary organisational structure comprises of four “Intelligence Analysis Groups”. Currently, these are the Air and Cyberspace Intelligence Group, the Geospatial and Signatures Intelligence Group, the Global Exploitation Intelligence Group, and the Space, Missiles and Forces Intelligence Group. Subordinate to these four groups are a total of eighteen squadrons, the exact and current make-up of which I am yet to finally ascertain. Moreover, this organisational configuration is supported by four Directorates. These are the Communications and Information Directorate, the Human Resources Directorate, the Logistics Directorate, and the Plans and Programs Directorate. Finally, NASIC also oversees the Civil Aviation Intelligence Analysis Center, though this center is now physically located at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington DC.
As mentioned, an official, current and detailed overview of NASIC’s internal structure is yet to be provided to me formally. A similarly detailed description of their current and varied missions has likewise been difficult to obtain. NASIC does, however, provide a general summary of its varied missions across the organisation. This information can be found in the “About Us” section of the NASIC website, and there are certainly several items of interest. The first mission of note is that of “Air and Counterair”, which aims to “…assess the capabilities of foreign aircraft, air-launched weapons, unmanned aerial vehicles and the likelihood of their employment against US forces...”. The second mission worth highlighting is “Space and Counterspace” which, amongst other things, develops “…integrated, all-source space and counterspace threat assessment and provide detailed understanding of foreign threats...”. The third mission of note is “Disruptive Technologies” which assesses “…emerging technologies that could potentially be used in an air, space and/or cyberspace warfighting capacity…” against America. A fourth mission is that of “Ballistic Missiles”. Here, NASIC assesses “…land-based foreign ballistic missile systems with a range of 1000 km and greater, their subsystems, operational capabilities, effectiveness, proliferation, and technology transfer…”. Evidently, it should be obvious where these missions are likely placed within NASIC’s group structure. For instance, the “Ballistic Missile” mission is likely handled by the Space, Missiles and Forces Intelligence Group. Nevertheless, a detailed breakdown of the entire NASIC organisational diagram, with a focus on the individual squadrons, and, especially, their mission focused activities, is sorely needed to precisely grasp what NASIC is doing. There are, nevertheless, other sources of information which are invaluable to this piece.
For example, it appears that some, if not all, of NASIC’s squadrons are further broken into small “Flight” units. The Space, Missiles and Forces Intelligence Group contains the intriguingly titled Future Threats Analysis Squadron. One of the Flights that make up this squadron is designated the Emerging and Disruptive Technologies Flight. This comes to us from an SRI International science conference, which was held California in March, 2018. Headlined as “Bio-Convergence and the Soldier 2050”, the event listed two speakers who came from the Emerging and Disruptive Technologies Flight. One of the speakers was titled as a “Disruptive Technology Biological Materials Analyst”, and the other was titled as a “Disruptive Technology Information Science Analyst”.
Back in November, 2011, a US General Services Administration “Performance Work Statement, Solicitation 5TP57110034”, which related to externally-contracted technical support for certain NASIC squadrons, stated that the “…increasing complexity and sophistication of foreign space threat systems, coupled with an uncertain and rapidly changing threat environment…” were placing “serious demands” on NASIC’s personnel. Further, the document states that some highly classified NASIC projects can include:
“…analyses of emerging threats based on new physical principles, special intelligence collection programs, and highly sensitive planning, operations, and/or acquisition programs…”.
Further, for contacted work to be completed, firms were to have “…a sufficient number of Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) cleared personnel…”.
Aside from NASIC’s traditional group-and-squadron structure, there are other internal entities which may be central to this discussion. An article in “The Asia Times”, dated the 9th of July, 2009, and titled “Mixed Signals Over Chinese Missiles”, quoted a series of statements made to a Congressional sub-committee by General Claude Robert Kehler, USAF, who was Commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) at the time. In his testimony, General Kehler mentioned a NASIC entity known as the Defence Intelligence Space Threat Committee which was “…established to oversee and coordinate a wide variety of complex space/counterspace analytical activities…”. This committee still exists today as the Defence Intelligence Space Threats and Operations Committee.
Researcher Jeffrey T. Richelson, in the seventh edition of his book “The US Intelligence Community”, found that NASIC’s Global Exploitation Intelligence Group consisted, in 2016, of three squadrons. One of those was the Foreign Material Squadron which “…analyses foreign aerospace systems or systems components that the United States has acquired or obtained access to…”. This citation comes directly from an October, 2013, organisational chart, titled “Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency: ISR Organizational Chart”. In fairness, this shouldn’t be a surprise. NASIC’s predecessors were often the recipient of so-called “Moon Dust” items which had been secured, and further transported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, from all over the globe. As per an Air Force Chief of Staff for Intelligence (AFCIN) draft letter, dated the 3rd of November, 1961, often cited as the “Colonel Betz Letter”, these “Moon Dust” objects were designated as any “…unidentified flying objects, or known Soviet/Bloc aerospace vehicles, weapons systems, and/or residual components of such equipment…” which the USAF felt worthy of squirrelling back to Wright-Patterson AFB. This effort involved highly trained field agents from a small unit which traces its lineage back to the old Air Defence Command’s (ADC) 4602nd Air Intelligence Service Squadron (4602nd AISS) in the 1950’s. The unit last known to be responsible for special “Moon Dust collections activity” was the Air Force Special Activities Center (AFSAC) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. AFSAC was stood down in 1991, and beyond that time the trail goes cold. Recent investigations by myself, however, indicate that AFSAC’s “Moon Dust” collection activities were absorbed by the 696th Intelligence Group by 1992, and, further, were overtaken by the 67th Operations Support Squadron in 1995.
The issue of clandestinely obtained aerospace hardware is raised in a rather stunning article published in “Airman Magazine” and presented on NASIC’s website on the 21st of November, 2016. Written by Technical Sergeant Brandon Shapiro, USAF, the piece was simply titled “Acquire, Assess, Exploit”. The article tells a seemingly hypothetical yarn of gun-carrying “covert agents” who purchase an “advanced aeronautical component” from a shadowy foreigner in the dead of night. Apparently, however, there is nothing fanciful about it. The author categorically states that NASIC and its predecessors “…have procured intelligence on foreign air and space forces…” for decades. The article goes on to say that:
“…obtaining data or equipment is integral to assessing a potential foe’s true capabilities and difining their future intentions. The mission’s goal is to assure that United States forces avoid technological surprise and can counter existing and evolving foreign air and space threats…”.
Further stated is that the military’s “…most qualified, knowledgeable and tech savvy sleuths…” begin the work of analysing and “reverse engineering” these goldmines of foreign technology, in some of the “…most heavily fortified, controlled, and monitored facilities in the military…”. The rest of the article drifts off into what it takes to be a NASIC scientist, and then gives a general overview of NASIC’s proud history.
By now, it should be apparent that some of what AATIP/AAWSAP did was the similar to what modern day NASIC does. Despite not having detailed mission overviews, or a breakdown of specific programs, NASIC is clearly involved in the study of “advanced aerospace” regimes which originate from outside the American theatre. Isn’t this at least close to, if not identical, as what some of AATIP/AAWSAP studied? A key NASIC responsibility is to understand “foreign threats”, and long-term ones at that. Again, we’ve seen exactly the same language from AAWSAP/AATIP. As I have carefully outlined, key NASIC missions include the examination of “foreign aircraft”, “unmanned aerial vehicles”, “emerging technologies”, “disruptive technologies” and “aerospace threats”. NASIC’s squadrons systematically analyse “emerging threats” based on “new physical principles”, and their personnel work to ensure the America avoids “technological surprise”. All these phrases are precisely what the AAWSAP/AATIP effort seems to be, at least in part, about. Even the names of some of NASIC’s units, like the Future Threats Analysis Squadron, and the Emerging and Disruptive Technologies Flight are a near-exact match to certain AAWSAP/AATIP phraseology. Of course, none of this is to imply that far-off future threats and ultra-advanced aerospace developments are all NASIC does. In fact, their mission and budget allows for a huge array of products and developments. Obviously, though, we’re only curious about anything that lines up with AAWSAP/AATIP, and even UFO’s.
As for the records that NASIC actually produces, one can only imagine. This is an area I have only just started working on, and my aim is to submit numerous Freedom of Information (FOI) requests on top of those already sent. When attempting to narrow down the categories of records held at any particular agency, I often start with its official “doctrine”. Doctrine includes “Instructions”, “Directives”, “Handbooks”, “Regulations” and the like. Regarding NASIC publications, a reasonable item to highlight is a USAF Handbook, titled “Air Force Handbook, 14-133, (Intelligence) Intelligence Analysis” (AFH 14-133). It was published on the 27th of September, 2017, outlines the types of “products” that the USAF’s Office of the Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AF-ISR) requires from their subordinate agencies, of which NASIC is one. Of the several categories of documents listed, the most auspicious are “Intelligence Assessments” and “Threat Studies”. AFH 14-133 describes an “Intelligence Assessment” as a “…Strategic, longer-term, analytical publication; focused on future capabilities and intentions; usually broad in military and/or political scope…” A “Threat Study” is described as a “…Longer-term analysis that is more narrowly scoped than an assessment; usually focused on a threat system or category of threat systems; generally strategic or operational in scope…”. Another document which briefly lays out what NASIC produces is the aforementioned USAF’s 2014 “Order of Battle” volume, entitle “USAF/AFHRA Order of Battle: National Air and Space Intelligence Center”. It states that NASIC’s intelligence products “range from one or two page executive summaries to multiple volumes in comprehensive studies, and from briefings and presentations to innovative video simulations”.
In composing this piece, I wanted to appraise how NASIC was structured both today and a decade ago. In 2008, NASIC was, like today, comprised of four intelligence groups. Subordinate to them were seventeen squadrons, which is one less than the eighteen that exist today. A USAF “Fact Sheet”, published on the 22nd of November, 2008, with the title “US Air Force, Fact Sheet, ‘National Air and Space Intelligence Center’ September, 2008”, offers the names of the intelligence groups and their respective squadrons. This information is backed up by an article dated the 23rd of April, 2008, titled “NASIC Holds Group and Squadron Activation”. The piece was written by the 88th Air Base Wing (88ABW), at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, for the Public Affairs Office of the 25th Air Force (25AF). NASIC’s four intelligence groups were the Air and Cyberspace Analysis Group, the Space and Missiles Analysis Group, the Global Threat Analysis Group, and the Data Analysis Group. Listing all seventeen subordinate squadrons is unnecessary as many of them appear irrelevant to my discussion. Some, however, are clearly notable, as we shall see.
The Air and Cyberspace Analysis Group, for example, contained the Aircraft Analysis Squadron, the Engineering Analysis Squadron, and the Integrated Air Defence Analysis Squadron. The Space and Missiles Analysis Group contained the Ballistic Missile Analysis Squadron, the Counterspace Analysis Squadron, the Space Analysis Squadron, and the Special Analysis Squadron. Again, any one of these squadrons could have been doing advanced air and space threat analysis with a focus on the long-term future. The Global Threat Analysis Group contained the Future Threats Analysis Squadron. With a squadron designation containing only the terms “future”, “threats” and “analysis”, one is bound to ask what sort of projects were undertaken here. Finally, the Data Analysis Group had under it the Foreign Material Exploitation Squadron. This is the same unit as the current Foreign Material Squadron, which duly analyses “foreign aerospace” hardware, as noted by Jeffrey T. Richelson as late as 2016.
The NASIC we see today was formed on the 15th of February, 2003. Beforehand, the organisation was the National Air Intelligence Center (NAIC). A USAF Public Affairs “Fact Sheet”, titled “US Air Force, Fact Sheet 95-10, ‘Air Intelligence Agency’, September, 1995”, details what was then the recent history of NAIC in considerable detail. NAIC was created on the 1st of October, 1993, when the Foreign Aerospace Science and Technology Center (FASTC) was merged with the USAF’s 480th Intelligence Group (480th IG). Also, the new NAIC entity fell under the direct command of the old Air Intelligence Agency (AIA). The AIA was assigned to Air Combat Command (ACC) at the time. Soon afterwards, on the 7th of July, 1994, the 497th Intelligence Group’s (497th IC) Directorate of Assessments, which “…produced a variety of general intelligence products…”, was integrated into the new NAIC structure. Regarding NAIC’s mission, a USAF Handbook, titled “Weapon Systems Intelligence Integration (WSII) Handbook”, which was promulgated in June, 1999, stated that NAIC was “…the Air Force’s General Military Intelligence (GMI) and Scientific and Technical Intelligence (S&TI) production center…”. Jeffrey T. Richelson, in the fourth edition of his book “The US Intelligence Community”, quoted extensively from an official NAIC Public Affairs pamphlet titled “National Air Intelligence Center Pamphlet 38-101, NAIC: Mission and Organization” (NAICP 38-101) which was published on the 8th of March, 1996. Specifically, NAIC:
“…acquires, processes, analyses, and integrates intelligence data and information on foreign weapons systems, subsystems, technologies and forces into products and services required to support the NAIC Commander, and selected external intelligence community customers…”
An undated history of NAIC, which was published by a USAF intelligence and security veterans group called “Silent Warriors”, states that NAIC played a key role in:
“…assuring that American forces avoid technological surprise and can counter the foreign air and space threat. NAIC and constituent units provide Center customers a broad range of integrated, tailored assessments and information operations products and services…”.
As if this wasn’t enough to demonstrate that NAIC’s job was to assess emerging aerospace developments and unforeseen threats, a Defence Technical Information Center (DTIC) “Guide”, titled “How To Get It: A Guide to Defense – Related Information Resources”, published in July, 1998, states that NAIC studied “…current and projected foreign aerospace capabilities…” and “…evaluates evolving technologies of potential adversaries…”.
As for NAIC’s organizational structure, Richelson further found that, by 1995, there existed seven Directorates, and, as previously stated, the 480th IG. Other internal entities included a Representative to the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Office of the Chief Scientist. NAIC’s seven Directorates were the Directorate of Data Exploitation, the Directorate of Global Threats, the Directorate of Intelligence Analysis, the Directorate of Mission Support, the Directorate of Production Operations, the Directorate of Communications and Information, and the Directorate of Technical Assessments. Further, each Directorate contained several Divisions. The Directorate of Data Exploitation, for example, contained four Divisions. Of these, the Programs, Requirements and Foreign Material Division is surely of interest. The Directorate of Global Threat, which produced “complete threat assessments” and “tailored intelligence assessments”, contained six Divisions. The most curious, in my opinion, were the Acquisition Division and the Air Capabilities Division. The Directorate of Technical Assessments, which produced intelligence products on “…foreign offensive aerospace systems, foreign space systems, foreign technology development, and electromagnetic systems developments…”, contained Divisions like the Aerodynamic Systems Division and the curiously titled Advanced Programs Division. The Directorate of Intelligence Analysis, with Divisions such as the Global Analysis Division and the Special Projects Division, was “…responsible for providing substantive military, political, scientific and technical intelligence support…” to top echelon customers including the Secretary of the USAF (SECAF) and the Chief of the Staff of the USAF (CSAF). None of the other four NAIC-era Directorates, nor any of their Divisions, appear to be of importance to this conversation, so I have chosen not to elaborate on them.
Going further back still, the same picture emerges. A full treatment of ever older mission statements and internal structuring will unlikely aid us regarding AAWSAP/AATIP. Briefly, however, NAIC was previously known as the Foreign Aerospace Science and Technology Center (FASTC) which was organised under the old Air Force Intelligence Command (AFIC) as of the 1st of January, 1992. An undated USAF Information Office “Fact Sheet”, titled “Air Force Intelligence Command: Fact Sheet”, states that FASTC was the “...focal point for the scientific and technical intelligence mission...” of the USAF. Further, FASTC published “...studies on current aerospace capabilities and potential threats posed by possible adversaries...” which included everything from aircraft and missiles to “directed energy weapons” and “new technological advances”. FASTC was short-lived, and was borne of the Air Force Foreign Technology Center (AFFTC). During a huge USAF command shake-up, AFFTC was inaugurated on the 1st of October, 1991, and, like FASTC, was placed under the command of old AFIC. Before this turbulent period, right back to July, 1961, it was known as the Foreign Technology Division (FTD), and was located within the huge Air Force Systems Command (AFSC). No matter how far we go back, it is clear that organisation has been at the cutting edge of future military technology development, foreign aerospace capabilities assessment, and scientific and technical intelligence.
I haven’t found any direct evidence that the modern day NASIC, or the former NAIC and FASTC, have investigated or otherwise dealt with the core UFO phenomena. However, if we go back to a period of 1970 to the very early 1990’s, there are a few tantalising examples where the UFO issue, and other very peculiar aerospace issues, came up. It’s worth mentioning here that I’m not raising the fact that the USAF’s last major UFO study, Project Blue Book, was placed within the FTD in the 1960’s. I’m aiming here to look well beyond that era to a time when the USAF supposedly relinquished any interest in the UFO problem.
In the 1990’s the UFO community latched on to the curious term “Fast Walker”. Firstly, enthusiasts claim that “Fast Walkers” are alien spacecraft which are detected in space by American reconnaissance satellites. Secondly, the USAF’s Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) are the entities who are tasked with assessing “Fast Walker” events. Thirdly, the entire thing is apparently very highly classified, never to be revealed. In actual fact, some of these assertions are true. Indeed, “Fast Walker” is an official term for objects in space which have unexpectedly come into the imaging range of American Defence Support Program (DSP) satellites, and AFSPC and NORAD are at the receiving end of the data. The “Fast Walker” issue is indeed highly classified, with almost no documentation ever released in thirty years, and not hardly an official comment made about it. The part about “Fast Walkers” being other-worldly spacecraft, of course, is totally unsubstantiated.
On the other hand, some “Fast Walker” object trackings are apparently never solved. Jeffery T. Richelson, in his indispensable 1999 book, “America’s Space Sentinels: The History Of The DSP And SBIRS Satellite Systems”, states:
“…Most Fast Walkers have been routine observations of foreign spacecraft. The infrared readings obtained by DSP, resulting from the reflection of sunlight off the spacecraft, provided analysts at the CIA, DIA and Air Force Foreign Technology Division (now the National Air Intelligence Center) with data on spacecraft signatures and movements…”.
Note that Richelson states “most” of these objects are observations of foreign spacecraft. What about the objects that aren’t? More importantly, Richelson specifically mentions that it is the FTD that analysed such data at the time, along with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and DIA.
On June the 20th, 1989, Captain Richard P. Osedacz, USAF, published a thesis for the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) which discussed “Fast Walkers” at length. Carrying the title “Orbit Determination of Sunlight Illuminated Objects Detected by Overhead Platforms”, Captain Osedacz states that:
“…The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tasked the Foreign Technology Division, Flight Performance Division (FTD/SQDF) to analyze these 15 to 30 minute data tracks and determine the element set, identifying the object…”.
Thus it is established that the an area of the FTD called the Flight Performance Division was handling “Fast Walker” data for identification purposes. One can’t help but wonder what was discovered. The Introduction page of Captain Osedacz’s thesis, which mentions the FTD, is imaged below.
In the early 1980’s, the FTD was sourcing Chinese publications about UFO’s. The first item is “The ‘UFO’ Of July 24, 1981: A Discussion With Comrade Zhang Zhousheng”, and is cited as coming from “Tainwen Aihaozhe, Nr. 9, September, 1982”. The internal FTD reference number is “FTD–ID(RS)T-0231-83” and the date of FTD translation and production is the 11th of April, 1983. The “requestor” of the work is listed as “FTD/SDBS”. The piece highlights a mass witness aerial phenomena sighting that occurred on 24th July, 1981 over much of China. The publication essentially interviews Zhang Zhousheng, who was staffed at the Yunnan Astronomical Observatory at the time, and Zhousheng goes into the dynamics of the event, the astronomical angle, and other matters. The case looks, to me, more like an out-of-control-missile test, but that’s not the point. The FTD were evidently interested in this sighting, and, while not of high-level importance, it demonstrates that the line between UFO events and decidedly foreign aerospace systems is blurred. I have imaged the front cover of the FTD document below.
The next item is titled “First UFO Incident For Our Country”, and is cited as coming from “Hangtian, Nr 4, 1982, pp. 12-13”. The internal FTD reference number is “FTD–ID(RS)T-1019-83” and the date of FTD translation and production is the 9th of September, 1983. Again, the “requestor” of is listed as “FTD/SDBS”. This short work also discusses the mass witness sighting of July, 1981, and offers numerous untenable solutions including spy planes, satellites, meteors, and even “flying saucers”. Again, the FTD wanted this publication translated and filed, so someone was picking up on unidentified aerospace activity abroad. Imaged below is the front cover of the FTD document.
In a particularly unusual chain of events, the FTD apparently investigated a series of suspicious and wide-spread aerial phenomena off the coast of the former Soviet Union in late 1988. Robert Hopkins, a former USAF pilot, and author of the highly regarded non-fiction book “The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker: More Than Just A Tanker”, was tasked with flying long-range intelligence gathering missions for the 24th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (24th SRS), which was then subordinate to the 6th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (6th SRW) in Alaska. The purpose of these flights was to collect telemetry intelligence (TELINT) and measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) data from enemy ballistic missile test. Speaking to “The Drive”, Hopkins recounts how, on two separate occasions, he and his co-pilot “experienced something incredibly bizarre” while monitoring a provocative Soviet missile trial off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The events ostensibly drew “extreme interest” from America’s intelligence community, including the FTD, and would become known as “Domes of Light”.
According to Hopkins:
“As our crew prepared for the re-entry of the SS-20’s three re-entry vehicles (RVs), we climbed to our prescribed collection altitude and began our timing track to ensure that the right side of the airplane, where all the sensors were located, was pointed toward the re-entry event to the west of our orbit… …The stars were out that night and I don’t recall any moonlight, so we anticipated a nice light show by the RVs as they re-entered the atmosphere. As with any ‘take’, or collection, there was a general buzz of excitement as the back-end crew verified that their sensors and recorders were fully operational and ready for what would be less than a minute of valuable intelligence. As we looked for traffic, we noticed what appeared to be a translucent, milky white wall moving from the left, over the USSR, to the right, toward the Northern Pacific Ocean. It covered the entire sky from ground level to as far up as we could see looking out the front windows of the airplane. It moved very quickly—far faster than crossing airplane traffic—and rapidly approached us. The wall of light passed across our flight path and then continued eastward, leaving the empty and dark night sky in its wake. Our programmed turn time arrived, and we began our bank to the left to collect on the RVs. Once we rolled out southbound the wall of light was no longer visible to the east.
After the mission, the other pilot and I discussed what we had seen and could offer no explanation. As we had both seen it, we concluded that it was not a hallucination and was likely some kind of auroral event neither of us had ever seen, despite their common presence at the high latitudes where we routinely operated. Interestingly enough, the same pilot and I saw the phenomenon again, behaving in the same fashion and, coincidentally, also prior to the collection for an SS-20 launch. By this time there was official interest in this event, which had now acquired the name ‘Dome Of Light’. This accurately described its appearance as a flash of light that began at the SS-20 launch site and then radiated outward in all directions at high speed. Guesses as to the velocity of the Dome of Light were determined by the time it took the SS-20 to travel from the launch site at either Drovyanaya or Kansk to Klyuchi. This yielded a back-of-the envelope speed around 6,200 miles per hour!
Scientists at the Air Force’s Foreign Technology Division (FTD) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, could not explain the origin or purpose, if there was one, for the Dome Of Light. Some concluded it was caused by special fuel used in the first stage of the SS-20. Others argued that it was something external to the SS-20’s propulsion system, or possibly a part of its transporter-erector-launcher or TEL, that provided an initial flash of light designed to temporarily blind American defence warning that detected foreign missile launches or a pulse that would interfere with incoming warheads. FTD placed the highest collection priority on SS-20 launches and even planned one mission over the Sea of Okhotsk to attempt collection from “behind” the dome as it passed by, but this produced no meaningful results.”
No wonder the FTD was interested. The SS-20 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) was considered an especially effective and destabilising nuclear strike option for the USSR. Further, the very idea that the Soviets were trialling this “Dome of Light” system to hide the movement and launch of missiles would be of grave concern to all. Whatever the situation, the FTD put “the highest collection priority on SS-20 launches” and “even planned one mission over the Sea of Okhotsk to attempt collection from ‘behind’ the dome as it passed by”. Ultimately, the FTD couldn’t explain these “Dome of Light” events, but some had already decided that it was indeed part of a Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) system to hide SS-20’s. Volume 15, No. 7. of “The Executive Intelligence Review”, which was published on the 12th of February, 1988, said that intelligence analysts had determined that the “Dome of Light” was “a temporary ABM effect, already tested, which could shield the launch of a first strike”. I have imaged the relevant page below. This admission was nearly a year before Hopkin’s and his crew would see the huge light phenomena themselves, so it was evidently something tangible. Whatever the situation, the Soviets were saying nothing, and very little has been discussed by anyone else.
Regarding UFO’s, even if the FTD wanted to wash their hand of it, they couldn’t. Just one year after Project Blue Book was officially terminated on the 30th of Janurary, 1970, the FTD’s Commander was still “stuck with the UFO problem”. Dr. Jacques Vallee’s classic “Forbidden Science – Volume Two” contains an interesting diary entry for the 28th of January, 1971. Discussed in this passage is the outcome of a meeting Vallee had just had with the Dr. Josef Allen Hynek, who was, of course, the official astronomical consultant to the USAF for Project Blue Book. Vallee states:
“Allen also told me about his latest talk with Weinbrenner, the new commander at the Foreign Technology Division, who confessed to him after conferring with four–star general Brown that the Air Force was indeed still stuck with the UFO problem. Military sightings have started again.”.
When Vallee penned this dairy entry, Colonel George Weinbrenner was indeed the new Chief of the FTD. As we know, the FTD was organisationally located within the USAF’s massive Air Force Systems Command (AFSC). At the time, the Commander of the AFSC was General George S. Brown. Beyond 1971, Gen. Brown would become the Chief of Staff of the USAF for a short time. Further, in July, 1974, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS).
In conclusion, AAWSAP/AATIP’s myriad catchphrases are emulated, sometimes precisely, in NASIC’s core vernacular. Currently, one could be forgiven for assuming that phraseology like “foreign aerospace threats”, “disruptive technologies”, “new physical principles”, “potential capabilities”, and “technological surprise” were all AAWSAP/AATIP terms. In fact, they are all NASIC references, and have been for a very long time. Indeed, NASIC contains entire squadrons seemingly dedicated to such efforts. What do we make of the Threats Analysis Squadron? Or its Emerging and Disruptive Technologies Flight? Even one of NASIC’s fundamental “missions” is that of “Disruptive Technologies”, and it’s aim is to assess “emerging technologies” in the air and space domain. One could argue that the terminology used by AAWSAP/AATIP and NASIC may seem to refer to the same sort of concepts, but in fact mean very different things. Does NASIC only have a vision of, say, ten years versus AAWSAP/AATIP’s forty years? Maybe, but the 18th of August, 2008, DIA solicitation for AAWSAP tenders stated “from now through the year 2050” in regard to understanding advanced applications, foreign threats and new physics. Having said that, the same document also states that AAWSAP’s focus “is not on extrapolations of current aerospace technology”, so how does one really know? Indeed, it’s difficult to verify anything at the moment. One thing is for certain: The line between AAWSAP/AATIP and NASIC may be very fuzzy. And the line between UFO’s and everything else going on here may be fuzzier still.