This still shows the unidentified object tracked by a Navy pilot in 2015 in the “Gimbal” video.


Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

A trio of videos captured by US Navy pilots has been fueling UFO theories for years. On Monday, the Navy released the videos as part of its online Freedom of Information Act document library.

“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” the Department of Defense said in a statement.

The short videos show one encounter from November 2004 and two incidents from January 2015. They are known by the nicknames Flir (2004), Go Fast (2015) and Gimbal (2015). The videos show pilots tracking unknown objects in the sky. In the Gimbal video, a pilot can be heard speculating that the object might be a drone.

The videos have been floating around the internet for years, and the Navy had already acknowledged them as real footage from its aircraft. “DOD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” the department said. 

So, is it aliens? Not likely. Mick West of debunking website Metabunk took a close look at the Go Fast video in 2018. “I think the most likely explanation is that it’s a relatively slow-moving object like a bird or a balloon,” he told CNET at the time. “The jet filming it is moving fast, so this creates an illusion of speed against the ocean, especially after the targeting system locks on.”

The Navy isn’t offering up any explanations for the aerial objects, which the Department of Defense still characterizes as “unidentified.” At least you can now officially assess the footage for yourself.