"OPREP-3" - A Classified US Military Reporting
Channel For UFO Incidents?
Recently, in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, I have highlighted the use of the US military’s OPREP–3 system to report apparent UFO events near military installations during the 1970’s. As stated in a Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) Instruction, titled “Joint Reporting Structure Event and Incident Reports”, it is establishes that:
“The OPREP–3 reporting system… …is used by military units at any level of command to report significant events and incidents to the highest levels of command.”.
To summarise, during late 1975, a series of OPREP–3 reports were urgently submitted from both Loring and Wurtsmith Air Force Base’s to the National Military Command Center (NMCC), the Strategic Air Command Headquarters (SAC HQ), the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJS), and as host of other top echelon agencies and commands. Contained in those reports were alarming airspace incursions by objects variously described as “unidentified helicopters”, “unknown helicopters”, “unidentified flying objects”, “unknown objects” and “UFOs”. Other bases, USAF bases, including Malmstrom AFB, Minot AFB, and Canada’s Falconbridge Air Station, were also intruded on by unidentified aircraft, or, at least, some sort of unusual phenomena. Three years later, in May, 1978, the United States Navy’s (USN) Jacksonville Naval Air Station (NAS Jacksonville) submitted an OPREP–3 report to the USN’s Commander–in–Chief, Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANFLT), which detailed an UFO visually radar near ) the USN’s Pinecastle Electronic Warfare Range.
Hence, it is established that the OPREP–3 system is not only suitable to report UFO events, but also been actually utilised for such. Having stated that, it is important to note that OPREP–3 reports can, and do, cover a wide range of “significant incidents” and “significant events”. There have been no categories, or specific formats, of OPREP–3’s that are explicitly designed for the reporting of unknown aerial objects, unidentified aircraft, or “UFOs”.
Or, so we thought...
In the 1970’s, researcher Robert Todd submitted hundreds of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests for UFO–related documents to the North American Aerospace Defence Command. (NORAD). Todd dealt directly with NORAD’s Headquarters at Ent Air Force Base, Colorado, as well as, the seven NORAD Regional ’Headquarters dotted around North America. One such FOI request, sent on the 9th of December, 1977, to the 20th NORAD Region (20th NR), asked for any operational instructions, manuals, regulations or forms that contained procedures for dealing specifically with “Unidentified Flying Objects”. Possibly unsure of what could be released, the 20th NR apparently referred Todd’s letter to NORAD’s Director of Administration, Headquarters, Ent AFB. On December the 21st, 1977, NORAD’s Deputy Director of Administration, Lt. Col. Robert N. Meredith, replied to Todd, and stated that the 20th NR held classified doctrinal publications which were within the scope of Todd’s request. Those publications were listed as, “20th NORAD Region Regulation, Operations, 55–7 Unknown Track / Unknown Object Reporting”, “20th NORAD Region Operating Instuction, Operations, 55–8 Possible Unknowns, Unknowns, Special Tracks and Unknown Objects Actions”, “NORAD/ADCOM Manual 55–19, Vol. VII, Aerospace Reporting System”, “NORAD Form 61 Unknown Track Report” and “NORAD/DO Form 17 Unknown Track Report”.
Todd had already obtained copies, during much earlier FOI work, of three of the listed publications, but the other two were unknown to him. On January the 14th 1978, Todd submitted asked for copies of the two publications he hadn’t seen, which were “NORAD/ADCOM Manual 55–19, Vol. VII, Aerospace Reporting System” and “NORAD/DO Form 17 Unknown Track Report”. On the 8th of February, 1978, Lt. Col. Robert N. Meredith, supplied Todd with copies of the two requested records, and, in his covering letter, Lt. Col. Meredith stated:
“1. In response to your letter of 14 January, 1978, a copy of NORAD/DO Form 17, ‘NORAD Unknown Track Report’ (For Official Use Only when completed), and the portion of ‘NORAD Manual 55–19, Vol. VII’ Aerospace Reporting System’, pertaining to unknown tracks, are releasable.”
With the release of these two records, Todd was in possession of no less than five different NORAD, or joint NORAD/ADCOM, doctrinal records related, in some way, to UFO’s. Some of these publications dealt mutually with general unidentified aircraft too, but all contained sections or chapters specifically relating to UFO’s, and often very overtly. It is important to note here that NORAD has, for decades, been responsible, in conjunction with other organisations, for real–time air sovereignty, air defence, airspace early warning, and space surveilance across, and beyond, the United States and Canada. Alternatively, Aerospace Defence Command (ADCOM), was responsible, until its deactivation in 1980, for the internal air defence and military air coordination within the continental United States. Often, the doctrine and functionality of both NORAD and ADCOM was combined, as in the case of the above highlighted release to Robert Todd.
Contained in “NORAD/ADCOM Manual 55–19, Vol. VII, Aerospace Reporting System”, is a section which specifically instructed NORAD Regional Control Centers to use the OPREP–3 system when dealing with unknown radar track reports, including “Unidentified Flying Objects – UFOs”. Published on the 25th of November, 1977, and shortened to “N/AM 55–19 Volume VII”, the manual is divided into specific sections that related to different aspects of aerospace warning, air sovereignty, airspace management and the command–and–control of NORAD vectored US Air Force (USAF) combat jets. Section 15 lays out instructions for the “Identification Of Air Traffic”, and a special sub–section is also annoted as “Figure 15–4. OPREP–3 Unknown Track Report”. Point 1 states:
“1 (U) Subject and Purpose. This report provides the NCOC with additional data concerning each track classified as unknown (to include unidentified flying objects – UFOs)”
Thus, it is established that NORAD Regional Commanders are to provide the NCOC with information concerning “unidentified flying objects – UFOs”. The term “NCOC” refers to the NORAD Combat Operations Center in Colorado, which was tasked with centralised aerospace management, command and control for North America. In regards to the above passage of text, the reference to “unidentified flying objects – UFOs” comes second to general unknown radar tracks. In other words, the instructions are not laying out special procedures solely for “UFO” reporting. It is still rather extraordinary, however, that the phrase “unidentified flying objects – UFOs” is mentioned distinctly. The rest of the page details the urgency of reporting, method of transmission, and under what conditions reports must be made. Most importantly, these instructions appear to act as a template for OPREP–3 reporting. At the bottom of the page, in bold font, is a line of text reading “Figure 15–4. OPREP–3 Unknown Track Report”.
The next page indeed confirms that an OPREP–3 report is utilized to report unknowns. Point 8 reads:
“8. (U) Report Content. The following format will be used:
The Regional, Date and Track Number are common requirements for all reports.
a. Part I – Immediate OPREP–3 Report.
(1) Time declared unknown
(5) Number of objects.
(6) Reason unknown…”
A number of further data entry requirements are listed. Further on, we again see confirmation that these specific fields make up the contents of an OPREP–3 report:
“c. Part III – Final Action OPREP–3.
(20) Interceptor airborne time.
These are the only two pages of Section 15, “Identification Of Air Traffic”, that mention unknown tracks, unidentified flying objects, UFOs, or OPREP–3 reporting. In fact, Robert Todd was only offered a three pages from the entire “NORAD/ADCOM Manual 55–19, Vol. VII, Aerospace Reporting System” publication. The two pages I have detailed are imaged below.
The fact that NORAD and ADCOM specified OPREP–3 reporting of “unidentified flying objects – UFOs”, along with, and distinct from, routine unknown radar plots, departs radically from what the public have been told by the US Department of Defence. On occasion, researchers have questioned NORAD directly, nothing whatsoever about UFO reporting, via the OPREP–3 channel or otherwise, has been admitted. For example, in a reply letter dated 10th November, 1975, Colonel Terrence C. James, NORAD Headquarters, Ent Air Force Base, to researcher Robert Todd, it was stated:
“…this command has no present activity in investigating UFOs, nor does any area of the United States government that I’m aware of.”
Ten years later, in an April 25th, 1988 reply letter to researcher Dr. Armen Victorian, NORAD’s Chief of Operations Branch, Directorate of Public Affairs, Lt. Col. Roger I. Pinnell, stated:
“Thank you for your recent letter requesting information on Unidentified Flying Objects. Unfortunately, we have not recently released any information concerning UFO’s, nor do we keep any such information on file…”
Clearly, these statements are absolute nonsense.
On the first page of the document I have highlighted above, it is also interesting to note a passage of text contained within Point 7:
“7. (U) Specific Reporting Instructions. The regions GIUK submit this report by voice to the NCOC Surveillance Section as a RED report (see paragraph 1–3). NORAD Form 61, Unknown Track Report, will be used to record report. This report will be submitted sequentially with reference to the appropriate part and item number of the format in paragraph 8, below…”
When an OPREP–3 reportable event is, or at least was in the late 1970’s, submitted to the NCOC, the NORAD Regional Control Center who submitted the OPREP–3 also keeps the details of the event on a “Form 61, Unknown Track Report”. So, effectively, this form acts as a repository for, at minimum, unknown or unidentifiable aircraft that have been tracked by NORAD systems, as well as “UFO’s”, which, again, is a term that no one in the US military was supposed to be using. A “Form 61, Unknown Track Report” contains blocks of questions that must be filled in by NORAD Region air defence personnel. Specific blocks include “Time Unknown”, “Course”, “Speed”, “Altitude”, “No. Of Objects”, “Reason Unknown”, “Possible Identification” and other pertinent details regarding aerial interception, identification of the offending unknown, and administrative action. A copy of “Form 61, Unknown Track Report” is imaged below.
The concept of USAF combat jets being scrambled by NORAD to identify general unknown tracks, which we have been repeatedly told represent stray, unidentifiable civilian aircraft, or, foreign military aircraft that are tasked with testing US and Canadian aerospace boundaries, is perfectly acceptable. The sovereignty of the both America and Canada would be in a sorry state indeed if this task wasn’t being performed. But to specifically have “unidentified flying objects – UFOs” explicitly listed for OPREP–3 reporting, as well as the potential need for airborne interception, completely flies in the face of what the US military would have the public believe. Project Blue Book, the long–running and ultimately flawed USAF study of the UFO phenomenon, ended with the release of a “Fact Sheet” titled “Unidentified Flying Objects And Air Force Project Blue Book: Fact Sheet”. Though there are different versions of the publication, one notable section in a 1993 version of this short publication stated:
“Since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations by the Air Force…”
We have already established that a number of provocative UFO cases have occurred, and created significant and classified documentation, long after the conclusion of Project Blue Book, so the above statement is hogwash. Furthermore, we now see specific doctrine that recognises the UFO matter, and, treats it as an air defence issue. As I stated at the opening of this entry, researcher Robert Todd, by 1978, was in possession of no less than five NORAD and/or ADCOM publications that referred, at least in part, to “unidentified flying objects”, “unknown objects” and “UFOs”. I will be highlighting more of these items in future entries of my ongoing series “NORAD And The UFO Smokescreen”. Furthermore, these don’t even include the well–known “Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146” (JANAP 146) publication. JANAP 146 laid out a series of “Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings” (CIRVIS) instructions, as well as a series of “Merchant Ship Intelligence” (MERINT) reporting procedures. Both systems were for use by US and Canadian forces to report, amongst other things, “Unidentified Flying Objects”. One of the addressees on completed CIRVIS and MERINT reports was none other than NORAD’s Commander–in–Chief, as well as NORAD’s Air Defence Operations Center (ADOC). So, really, by 1978 or so, Todd, and a handful of other dedicated researchers, knew of seven doctrinal publications relating to UFO’s.
Currently, I am using the FOI Act to have the NORAD History Office locate and potentially release any records that were created as a result of the above mentioned doctrine. Of obvious interest are any OPREP–3 reports of UFO’s, plus, any discussion papers, commanders briefs and intelligence estimates which were authored as a result of such events. NORAD, however, are technically exempt from FOI Act, which is very convenient for them. In regards to the OPREP–3 reported UFO events at Loring and Wurtsmith Air Force Bases, plus similar events at ten other USAF bases throughout 1975 and 1976, the obvious question one must raise is that of the subsequent investigation, evaluation and analysis which was indeed performed by US military commands. In my Part 5 in this series, I will highlight the investigations that were performed by Strategic Air Command Headquarters (SAC HQ), 8th Air Force Headquarters (8AF HQ), Air Force Global Weather Central (AFGWC), the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), the National Military Command Center (NMCC), and a host of other others.