|Occurred : 6/28/1999 13:30 (Entered as : 06/28/99 13:30)
Reported: 7/15/2000 14:23
Location: Gulf of Mexico, FL
|Radar Tracking of unknown object.
On 28 June 1999, I was Pilot in Command of a 3 man flight crew flying a radar patrol in the Gulf of Mexico. The weather was hazy with only a few clouds at several altitudes. We were at 22,000 feet when our radar facility called and informed us that they had a primary target south bound at 350 knots approximaely 150 miles west of Tampa Bay. We were vectored to the target as we decended out of altitude. The radar center informed us that they had checked with all the military bases along the coast in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana and noone could identify the unknown target. My aircraft is equiped with an F-16 fighter radar and FLIR (Forward Looking Infared) sensors. Shortly after being given vectors we locked up a south bound target at 390 knots, 300 feet off the water. We were established on a head on intercept with the target at 55 miles. As we closed and off set the target, it made a 90 degree left turn east bound and exited our scope in a matter of seconds. I turned right to reaquire the target and again locked it up at 25 miles heading east at now 670 knots. I initally thouhgt it was a radar glitch but every turn, speed change, and heading change was verified by 3 different radars. My aircraft radar, and 2 other radar systems. The target slowed and we closed to within 15 miles of it, it then stopped, reversed course 180 degrees and then made an imediate 90 degree right turn north bound again and accelerated to 1100 knots. It stopped made a 120 degree heading change and accelerated again to close to 900 knots coming at us. I tried to manuver our aircraft to keep it on radar as much as possible and to get a flir image on tape but due to a haze layer it was impossible. The radar image taping system was non operational on this aircraft at the time of the incident. This chasing around the gulf went on for 25 minutes or so and the last call I got from radar was that the target was heading east bound accelerating. I turned and locked up the target east bound accelerating through 1100 knots and climbing! at a ve ry high rate of speed till it just blew off the aircraft scope. That was the last time I saw it on radar. We never got close enough to get a visual on the object. There was never a mode squak from the target and the manuvers were something like I had never seen. I have been flying since 1976 and have extensive military and civilian experience. I waited this long becasue of the reasons we were out in the gulf and why we were where we were.