For the past two years, The Black Vault has chased an internal Navy document which referenced an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) briefing of some kind, but there were little details to go on. However, after multiple FOIA requests, and after fighting an initial false “no records” denial to get it, the record has finally been released.
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The document revealed a previously unknown briefing for staff members of the Senate Armed Services Committee by an F/A-18 pilot who encountered a UFO while operating in the airspace off the U.S. east coast. That briefing, along with the specific encounter itself, both appear to have never been revealed to the general public before.
The Paper Trail
In June of 2019, The Black Vault released numerous e-mails from within the U.S. Navy pertaining to UAPs. Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), one particular request specified a search of e-mails sent to or from the spokesperson for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, Joseph Gradisher. Within those e-mails, there was a reference to an internal Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) “weekly e-mail” that talked about a UAP briefing for Senate staffers, but details about that briefing were scant.
To track it down, The Black Vault filed a request for that OLA weekly e-mail, which was tagged as Navy FOIA case DON-NAVY-2019-008880. Oddly, it yielded a “no records” response despite there being a number of references to it within already released messages. Those references proved it existed, but why the Navy did not originally find it and ultimately gave a “no records” response in the first case is unknown.
The time had expired for The Black Vault to submit a FOIA appeal on that case (due to time constraints and additional research needed to formulate a proper one), but a new request was filed by The Black Vault with more information in hopes to get the document released. After more than two years since the original request was filed, the OLA weekly was finally released under Navy FOIA case DON-NAVY-2021-010546, filed in September of 2021.
A New Encounter Revealed
The record revealed that on January 16, 2019, an “F/A-18 pilot from VFA-103, met with SASC [Senate Armed Services Committee] PSMs [Professional Staff Members].” The OLA weekly message when on to state, “SASC PSMs have continuing interest in unidentified aerial vehicle intercepts that have occurred in the working airspace off the U.S. east coast, and [REDACTED] gave a detailed brief on his personal encounter.”
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103
VFA-103, nicknamed The Jolly Rogers, is located at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They currently fly the two seat variant of the Navy’s newest strike fighter aircraft the F/A-18F Super Hornet, but have been flying various aircraft since they were first established in 1952.
Although the revelation about a UAP encounter by a pilot within VFA-103 is new; their home base of NAS Oceana has been no stranger to encounters with unknown objects.
In May of 2020, Tyler Rogoway and Joseph Trevithick both authored a piece for The Drive’s War Zone about Naval UAP Encounters. NAS Oceana Squadrons VFA-11, VFA-143, and VFA-106 were all referenced in the article written by The War Zone as having numerous UAP encounters, however, the reports never mentioned VFA-103.
As noted by The War Zone, there likely are many reports not yet released by the Navy, and this recent revelation about a VFA-103 incident that was told to SASC staff members is one that can be added to that list.
“These are the only eight hazard or flight incident reports covering naval aviation encounters with unidentified objects, balloons, and any other similar objects anywhere that appear in the Web-Enabled Safety System (WESS) Aviation Mishap and Hazard Reporting System (WAMHRS), according to the Naval Safety Center,” The War Zone wrote. “This is immediately curious given extensive previous reports, including from The War Zone, citing Navy pilots, on and off the record, who have said that these kinds of sightings over the Atlantic were occurring frequently between 2014 and 2015.”
Though no details of the actual encounter were revealed, the mere mention of it is a small piece to an even bigger puzzle, that has yet to be fully put together. The U.S. Navy has spoken openly about UAP encounters generally speaking, along with the continued problem they pose, but they rarely speak about specific events such as these.
Within this OLA Weekly, the new case will pave the way for new FOIA cases to be filed (spoiler alert: they have been filed), and hopefully, at least one new witness to emerge.
But, will they? And will a new UAP encounter that was extraordinary enough to be briefed to SASC PSMs be revealed?
We may not be able to answer those questions at the moment, but with each piece of the puzzle coming to light, maybe one day soon, we will.
UPDATE 11/17/2021: I attempted to get the Pentagon to comment on the below briefing; pilot; encounter; or specifics on the UAP event. I was told the entire briefing was classified – and therefore no comment was issued.
Legislative Review for 12-18 Jan 2019 [12 Pages 1.1MB]
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