2004 USS Nimitz Tic Tac UFO FLIR footage (FLIR1)

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The apparent size and blurriness disqualifies an ordinary aircraft at any range.
I think you'd need to quantify that statement. What size range is this thing, as you understand it? What size range are "ordinary aircraft"?

And ... "blurriness" does not seem to be a disqualifying factor, as that a function of the camera, not the object.
 

gtoffo

Member
I think you'd need to quantify that statement. What size range is this thing, as you understand it? What size range are "ordinary aircraft"?

And ... "blurriness" does not seem to be a disqualifying factor, as that a function of the camera, not the object.
The only thing we know about object size is the apparent angular size. We can use that to calculate size at various ranges (as I have done above https://www.metabunk.org/threads/2004-uss-nimitz-tic-tac-ufo-flir-footage-flir1.9190/post-239013).

We know the range of ATFLIR is 40nm so we should expect an object to be clearly in focus within that range unless a major malfunction happens. And we know the range of the onboard radar which should be able to lock on a large aircraft or physical object even beyond that range.

Extreme range would explain the absence of a radar lock and the blurriness maybe. But then the object would have to be larger than a fighter and moving very fast.

Also I am not sure the blurriness we see is due to the camera or the object as it could just be caused by the video itself.

UPDATED Recap of the data we have confirmed:
- this things moves horizontally 12° across the nose of a static observer (Mick estimates 4.2 seconds/degree of apparent movement)
- it is at a static altitude 5° of inclination above an observer at 20k feet.
- ATFLIR has a "max" range of around 40nm (and the intercept could have been as close as 20nm according to witness testimony by the pilot)
- the radar can't lock on and determine range although it's range is longer than ATFLIR
- the thing is emitting IR radiation
- the thing is visible on TV (black & white) mode so it is observable in the visible light spectrum with a similar shape to its IR image
- the video is blurred both in IR and TV mode.

Additional data that depends on range (assuming 40 to 20nm here):
- object speed (only horizontal component relative to observer) is around 400 (40nm) to 200 knots (20nm)
- object elevation would be at 40k feet at 40nm or 30k feet at 20 nm. Elevation is key: maintaining those altitudes for something with wings is tricky. You need high speeds and good propulsion. Would the speeds observed be enough? It could be going at an angle with us and we might be seeing only a small part of it's true speed which may be hypersonic even.
- object size: we can get there with the camera field of view. "the ATFLIR maps a 0.70/0.35 deg field of view to the ATFLIR image sensor, this is equivalent to a super-telephoto lens of a focal length greater than 1200mm and a magnification factor of 35x or greater compared to a 35mm lens and sensor. This means that for objects at significant distance the details of their structure should be visible in the ATFLIR display up to several miles in distance." source https://www.explorescu.org/post/nimitz_strike_group_2004 page 198 The two values are for zoom 1 and zoom 2. At zoom 2 the object is 57/750 pixels on my screen so 0.076 of 0.35° which is 0.0266° apparent angular size. At 40nm it's 40 meters. At 20nm it's 20 meters an F-18 super hornet is 18,31 meters long. This is the size Fravor estimated for the thing he saw.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
this things moves horizontally 12° across the nose of a static observer
A static jet? It's got a CAS of 251 knots. It's not static.

- it is at a static altitude 5° of inclination above an observer at 20k feet.
No, it goes from 6° to 5°

ATFLIR has a "max" range of around 40nm
No. Cameras don't stop working at a fixed distance. It depends on the size and illumination of the object, and weather conditions.

- the thing is emitting IR radiation
Everything does. Especially against the sky. But yes, the initial IR glare would see to indicate something hot.
Metabunk 2020-05-13 07-56-30.jpg
- the thing is visible on TV (black & white) mode so it is observable in the visible light spectrum with a similar shape to its IR image
Similar? At 41 seconds in it changes from visible to IR, at that point they don't really look that similar. You've got a peanut shape, and
Metabunk 2020-05-13 07-57-36.jpgMetabunk 2020-05-13 07-58-45.jpg


40 seconds later you get an IR shape that is more similarMetabunk 2020-05-13 08-11-46.jpg

Note this is brighter on the right. This is consistent with a jet flying towards the left. I'd previously thought that the horizontal shape was from a configuration of engines, but after viewing a variety of footage that shows the body of the jet a similar intensity to the engines, I'm now leaning toward it being more like the shape of the plane, plus a blob for the engine glare.

Example with more central engines
Metabunk 2020-05-13 08-15-58.jpg

Example with engines on the left.
Metabunk 2020-05-13 08-16-56.jpg

But with poor focus.
 

gtoffo

Member
@Mick West all excellent points. I think the blurred image (of an F-15?) is quite indicative of what we should see it this was a blurry jet fighter at a normal range. Longer ranges disqualify a fighter.

UPDATED V3 Recap of the data we have confirmed:
- this things moves horizontally 12° (Mick estimates 4.2 seconds/degree of apparent movement) across the nose of an observer moving 250 knots with a fixed heading and altitude (HDG+BALT autopilot engaged)
- it is at an apparent angle of 6° and then 5° of inclination above an observer at 20k feet (this could correspond to a tiny change as the value is rounded to the degree).
- ATFLIR's manufacturer states "ATFLIR can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet" (and the intercept could have been as close as 20nm according to witness testimony by the pilot)
- the radar can't lock on and determine range although it's range is longer than ATFLIR
- the thing is emitting IR radiation
- the thing is visible on TV (black & white) mode so it is observable in the visible light spectrum with a similar shape to its IR image
- the video is blurred both in IR and TV mode.
- the videos is compressed and low quality

Additional data that depends on range (assuming 40 to 20nm here):
- object speed (only horizontal component relative to observer) is around 400 (40nm) to 200 knots (20nm)
- object elevation would be at 40k feet at 40nm or 30k feet at 20 nm. Elevation is key: maintaining those altitudes for something with wings is tricky. You need high speeds and good propulsion. Would the speeds observed be enough? It could be going at an angle with us and we might be seeing only a small part of it's true speed which may be hypersonic even.
- object size: we can get there with the camera field of view. "the ATFLIR maps a 0.70/0.35 deg field of view to the ATFLIR image sensor, this is equivalent to a super-telephoto lens of a focal length greater than 1200mm and a magnification factor of 35x or greater compared to a 35mm lens and sensor. This means that for objects at significant distance the details of their structure should be visible in the ATFLIR display up to several miles in distance." source https://www.explorescu.org/post/nimitz_strike_group_2004 page 198 The two values are for zoom 1 and zoom 2. At zoom 2 the object is 57/750 pixels on my screen so 0.076 of 0.35° which is 0.0266° apparent angular size. At 40nm it's 40 meters. At 20nm it's 20 meters an F-18 super hornet is 18,31 meters long. This is the size Fravor estimated for the thing he saw.
 

gtoffo

Member
I hadn't noticed the change in vertical angle. Could that be helpful to identify range?

If we assume both objects are maintaining a static altitude. And we know the speed of the F-18 we could probably figure it out. Only problem is: the angle indicators are rounded to the closest integer.

Height change.png
 
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Max Phalange

New Member
Over on Reddit a poster has done some analysis using the telemetry in the FLIR video in an attempt to put a lower bound on the speed of the tracked object. I'll just quote the relevant part, it ties into gtoffo's last two posts in this thread somewhat - would be interesting to hear thoughts.
... the explanation of a distant commercial plane doesn't match up with the data on the FLIR screen. David Fravor said that the range showed 99.9 because it was jamming their radar. Mick West says that it couldn't get a radar lock simply because it was too far away. That gives really useful information since the max range of the FLIR is 40 miles. If what Mick West says is true than that puts a minimum distance on the object and hence a minimum speed. We know the angle that the object travels left in a certain time (1 degree in 3 seconds towards the end). Using trigonometry to combine that with the minimum 40 mile distance thats a speed of 837 mph to the left. In other words, for Mick West's explanation to be right the object has to be moving at at least 837 mph.

But it gets more interesting. The FLIR screen also says that the object is initially 6 degrees above the F/A-18. At 40 miles away that's 22,070 feet. Add that to the F/A-18's altitude of 20,000 feet, it's about 42,000 feet in altitude. But it gets MORE interesting, If you know how triangles work the angle should go up as the F/A-18 gets closer. But it doesn't, it actually goes down to 5 degrees then stays there. Either it's rapidly dropping altitude or it's moving away from the FLIR at around it's same speed. Using the cruise speed of the F/A-18 which is 660 mph that means it must be moving away at 660 mph.

So 837 mph to the left and 660 mph away. The total vector made by this is 1065 mph.

There are only two possibilities here:
  1. If it's so far as to be out of range of the FLIR radar as Mick West claims then it has to be moving at at least Mach 1.4 therefore cannot be a commercial plane
  2. If it is within FLIR radar range then how is it completely incapable of getting a radar lock on a commercial jet? Fravor's explanation that it jammed the radar must be true.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
would be interesting to hear thoughts
Flipping from 5° to 6° tells you precisely zero about the change in vertical angle. That could be 5.999 to 6.0001, or it could be 6.1 to 5.5, based on the semi-random changes in the horizontal angle. 4, 3,4,3,2,1,-1,1,-1,0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

The 837 mph calculation is correct for a simple 3 seconds per degree motion at 40 miles. But the average over the consistent frames is 4.2 seconds per degree.
Metabunk 2020-07-08 19-27-17.jpg

Which gives a simple perpendicular speed at 40 miles of about 600 mph. Or at 20 miles, 300 mph.

There's still plenty of configurations in which "a jet" would work
 

Max Phalange

New Member
The change to 6 degrees is at 1:04.27 and to 7 degrees at 1:08.03 (delta of 3.76s), then to 8 at 1:12.27 (delta of 4.24 s) - so agreed, not sure where they got "1 degree in 3 seconds towards the end" from.
 

Max Phalange

New Member
Maybe that one should go in a Gimbal thread instead of Nimitz? I'm not really sure what he's arguing in that one - what shows that the range from the object to the camera was constant? I don't think that's shown on the HUD.
 

TheoryQED

Member
The change to 6 degrees is at 1:04.27 and to 7 degrees at 1:08.03 (delta of 3.76s), then to 8 at 1:12.27 (delta of 4.24 s) - so agreed, not sure where they got "1 degree in 3 seconds towards the end" from.
I think the post on Reddit was only talking about the vertical degrees not the horizontal ones. He's saying that because an F-18 is faster than a commercial airliner the degrees should go from 6 to 7 as it gets closer, and not from 6 to 5... which he thinks shows that the object is moving away faster than the fighter jet is approaching it.
 

Max Phalange

New Member
I think the post on Reddit was only talking about the vertical degrees not the horizontal ones.
Well, he was calculating the horizontal and vertical components separately based on the deflection angles shown in the hud, and combining to get a velocity. However, the vertical component tells us nothing useful because potentially a tiny change in the vertical angle, when rounded to a whole degree, would snap from 6 to 5 on the display.

His calculation of the horizontal component was based on a claim of "1 degree in 3 seconds", but going frame by frame and noting the timestamps when the angle changes shows it's closer to 1 degree in 4 seconds. So instead of the claimed total velocity of 1065mph, the information in the video gives an upper bound on the velocity that's less than 700mph.
 

Agent K

Active Member
Over on Reddit a poster has done some analysis using the telemetry in the FLIR video in an attempt to put a lower bound on the speed of the tracked object. I'll just quote the relevant part, it ties into gtoffo's last two posts in this thread somewhat - would be interesting to hear thoughts.
Compare with my analysis two years ago. That was before I realized that the tracker broke lock at the end.
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/2004-uss-nimitz-tic-tac-ufo-flir-footage-flir1.9190/post-217191
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/2004-uss-nimitz-tic-tac-ufo-flir-footage-flir1.9190/post-217199
 
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