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UFOs & the Cold War: Project Palladium

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posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 09:11 AM

The modern age of the UFO runs along parallel to the history of the Cold War. Both began shortly after World War II during the late 1940s and continued for 4 decades. Those years produced the majority of ‘classic’ UFO cases that fill books, websites and TV documentaries with most of their content to this day. By the early 1990s the Cold War was over. Shortly afterwards the last flashes of that ‘classic’ UFO age also seemed to blink out with the Phoenix lights in 1997.

This post looks at how just one Cold War project may have been linked to UFO cases of that era.

It is something of a spin off from my previous post:

Revisiting the 1952 Washington DC UFO Flap

It probably has some relevance to this thread as well :
CIA Official Tweet Takes Credit for 50's and 60's UFO Sightings

The story of Project Palladium starts with the closing moments of the Second World War.....

The Ghosts of Nansei-Shoto

In the spring of 1945 Allied forces in the Pacific were gathering for the last major assaults of the war. Allied ships were aware of the constant fear of attack from Japanese ‘kamikaze’ bombers. As the invasion of Okinawa drew close radar operators picked up two, maybe three, hundred objects approaching the Allied fleet. The objects were travelling at impossible rates and much faster than the speed of sound.

Navy interceptors were frantically launched into the air. But the enemy aircraft were nowhere to be seen. The blips on the Allied radar screens closed in over the fleet and then vanished. The men on the ship decks of the battle group and the pilots in the sky saw nothing but clear blue skies.

The event became known as the "Ghost of Nansei-shoto." Navy Scientists believed that the close proximity of their ships’ powerful radar had caused spoof radar signals and also noted that the ability to control this phenomenon would be a very useful military tool.

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posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 09:12 AM
Project Palladium

By the late 1950s there was a growing concern with the ability of the U2 spy planes to safely overfly Soviet airspace and evade counter-measures. The U2 spy cameras had detected large build ups in Soviet air and missile defences and there had been numerous attempts by the Warsaw Pact forces to shoot one down.

Project Palladium was a CIA/NSA combined project designed to collect military intelligence data from Soviet aircraft, naval vessels, radar and missile technology. The technology involved allowed the CIA to create ghost aircraft that the Soviets would pick up on their radar. This electronic trickery could create phantom objects of any shape or size, flying at any speed or altitude. The NSA ,meanwhile, were responsible for monitoring the way in which the Soviets received and reacted to these spoof signals.

Palladium was intended for use in conjunction with the Oxcart (the designated replacement for the U2 and forerunner to the SR71 Blackbird). Palladium would emit the false signals to confuse enemy radar whilst ‘stealth’ technology would reduce the Oxcart’s radar signature to a small blip. The end result being a very confused enemy during spy plane missions.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

Despite the tense political situation the opportunity to monitor the Russians from such a close proximity was too good to ignore. So Project Palladium was deployed on a navy destroyer during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The objective was to confuse Cuban radar whilst the NSA would study how the Cubans (and their Soviet ‘military advisers’) responded.

A CIA team would create a ‘radar ghost’ approaching Cuban airspace. Then a US Navy submarine lying off the coast of Havana Bay would surface and launch different sized metallic spheres as the ‘ghost aircraft’ approached their position. This would in turn prompt the Soviets to activate their radar defences. Then the NSA boys monitoring communications would be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Soviet equipment.

In one incident Cuban fighter planes scrambled to intercept. Our friends at the CIA kept their ghost aircraft just beyond the range of the Cubans. Then, when the NSA team identified a Cuban pilot preparing to engage his weapons they switched off the Palladium system.

And so it became.....

“Another UFO, another pilot's unbelievable tale. “

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posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 09:13 AM
Leon Davidson: ECM + CIA = UFO

Leon Davidson was a scientist who had worked on the Manhattan Project during WWII. After the war he became a supervising engineer at Los Alamos laboratories. He was intrigued by the ‘strange green fireball’ reports coming from New Mexico that remained unexplained and many other unsolved stories of activity in the skies.

In the late 1950s he penned a very interesting piece of work which he called:

“ECM + CIA = UFO or How to Cause a Radar Sighting”

Taking note of the earlier mentioned ‘Nansei-shoto’ incident he wrote.

By 1945, mechanical countermeasures against radar had become publicly known. ...

A "black box" in our bombers would pick up the enemy's radar impulses; amplify and modify them; ... send them back, drowning out the normal radar return from the bomber. The modification could be a change in timing or phase and could cause the "blip" on the radar screen to have an incorrect range, speed, or heading.

The March 1957 edition of ‘Aviation Research and Development’ magazine (page 22) had already revealed how radar spoofing technology had improved and was now used in the civilian domain for training radar operators .

Davidson quoted :

"A new radar moving target simulator system which generates a display of up to 6 individual targets on any standard radar indicator has been developed... to train radar operators... and for in-flight testing of airborne early-warning personnel... Target positions, paths, and velocities can... simulate... realistic flight paths... Speeds up to 10,000 knots are easily generated... The target can be made to turn left or right... For each target there is... adjustment to provide a realistic scope presentation."

Leon Davidson firmly believed the famous UFO flap over Washington in July 1952 was a result of the military testing this technology and said:

"Since 1951, the CIA has caused or sponsored saucer sightings for its own purposes. By shrewd psychological manipulation, a series of 'normal' events has been served up so as to appear as quite convincing evidence of extra¬terrestrial UFOs... (Including) military use of ECM on a classified basis unknown to the radar observers who were involved."

And let’s not forget The Head of Project Bluebook Ed Ruppelt’s quote concerning the DC UFO flap:

A few days prior to the incident, a scientist, from an agency that I can't name and I were talking about the build-up of reports along the east coast of the United States". At the end of the two hour conversation, the scientist made a prediction: ..... 'Within the next few days....they're going to blow up and you're going to have the granddaddy of all UFO sightings. The sighting will occur in Washington or New York,' he predicted, 'probably Washington.'"

Source : Captain Edward Ruppelt - ”The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects”

The scientist and the agency they represented have never been identified. But sure enough, in the heat of two weekends in mid-July of 1952, a number of radar targets were tracked on military and civilian radars over the Capitol.

Was it really just a CIA exercise?

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posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 09:13 AM
Lakenheath & Bentwaters

Spoof radar technology has also been linked to UFO incidents at Lakenheath/Bentwaters in 1956 although given some doubt by UFO researcher Martin Shough .

Given the value of Soviet radar defences to Strategic Air Command offensive planners, and the involvement of both CIA and NSA, one might suppose that if an early prototype test of a Palladium-type operation had ever been contemplated in Europe in 1956 then forward-basing of the equipment at a SAC airfield where CIA and NSA had already established a secure presence would be natural. RAF Lakenheath was a SAC bomber base where in May 1956 the CIA had chosen to deploy one of the first U-2s.

On the other hand I don't think there's any reason to doubt CIA history which says that Palladium per se was started under Bud Wheelon, who was DDS&T from 1962.... There is no indication that Palladium was continuous with a long series of similar prototype developments going back to 1956 or 1957. The existence of such an early forerunner - especially one developed enough to see use overseas in the UK - seems to me both technically and historically very doubtful, and I'm not aware of any parallel efforts by other agencies at that time. But it probably can't be completely ruled out and it's right to at least consider it.
Source :

Milton Torres UFO Encounter

There is also the case of the Milton Torres a year after the Lakenheath incident.

A 1957 incident that took place over the UK appears to be a classic case of radar spoofing at the expense of a terrified American pilot. 25-year-old Lieut¬enant Milton Torres was based at RAF Manston in East Kent, then an outpost for America’s Strategic Air Command. On 20 May, Torres received the order to scramble his F86D Sabre in pursuit of a large aircraft the size of a B52 bomber, picked up on radar about 24km away. He was given the order to arm his weapons and fire on sight, something that no airman would expect to have to do over the Kent countryside, except in time of war. As he feared, he was informed that the aircraft was hostile and probably Russian.

Torres and a wingman in another Sabre hurtled towards the object at Mach 0.92. It now registered as the size of an aircraft carrier, but zipped about on his radar screen like an insect. He was ready to fire a full salvo of 24 rockets at the intruder, yet neither he nor his wingman could see a visual target. Was the aircraft invisible? Suddenly the radar signature disappeared and the Sabres were called back to base. The next day, a shaken Torres was visited by a trench-coated American who claimed to be from the National Security Agency. The mystery man warned Torres that if he ever wanted to fly again he would keep his mouth shut. And for 30 years, he did.

Source : Mirage Men - Mark Pilkington

The UFO sightings over Iran in 1976 and a number of others, including the Belgian UFO wave in 1989, have also been linked as possible radar spoofing exercises. This seems too much of a simplistic explanation to many researchers.

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posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 09:14 AM

I admit I was intrigued by this story and would like to thank fellow members PlanetXisHere, ZetaRediculan, The GUT , CardDown and a few others for pointing me in certain directions to look at this in a bit more detail. CardDown also included an interesting interview with T.D Barnes, who was involved in Project Palladium, on his blog a while back .

"Though I have no first-hand knowledge of UFO disinformation, I don't doubt for a minute that we did it. Our U-2 and Blackbird flights were UFO sightings that we really didn't want to occur, especially the CIA A-12 whose existence we wanted to keep secret. In the A-12 alone, we flew 2850 flights out of Area 51 and many of them were responsible for UFO sightings. The Air Force Bluebook investigators having to make up stories to cover for us caused a lot of the skepticism that exists today. Psy-Ops by all parties were a major component of the Cold War, but in our case we preferred to be undetected. "

Quote from interview with T.D Barnes.

Full details :

TD Barnes in discussion

The present day CIA seems to want to take the credit for UFO sightings of the 1950s and 1960s by blaming them on the U2 and Oxcart programs. But were they really responsible for the DC Sightings in 1952, and later incidents over England before Project Palladium had officially began?

I have no doubt that CIA/military activity has probably accounted for ‘some’ UFO reports down the years. Yet there is also the issue of how eye witness sightings can be explained.

In the Revisiting the 1952 Washington DC UFO Flap thread I did discuss a theory that, in certain weather, radar also caused ‘plasma’ in the atmosphere. Perhaps the two things in conjunction were being harnessed to create ‘UFOs’?

However I think we have to consider that ‘Project Palladium’ appeared in the 1960s. I could not find a direct reference to any ability to create “visual” phenomenon to accompany these false radar signals. Nor is there any indication that ‘tests’ were made during the 1950s prior to Palladium being implemented, let alone over Washington in 1952.

So once again we have the fingers of the intel boys firmly digging into another UFO pie and claiming ‘it was us!’. At other times the ET angle is encouraged, discouraged and debunked with equal measure.

So the Cold War has ended but it seems ‘the game’ continues..........

edit on 25/1/15 by mirageman because: typo

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 09:22 AM
Hey there mirageman, long time no see.

Excellent thread, top stuff. Duly starred and flagged.

I've only had enough time to briefly scan over your excellent research. I will return in the morning for a more comprehensive read.

It's stuff like this that really shows off the potential of ATS for first class research.
Well done

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 09:28 AM
This....this is why I joined ATS. Best post I have seen in a long time.

If I could give you more than one flag I'd be hitting that button over and over. Thank you!!

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 09:40 AM
Excellent post. There is no question that some UFO sightings were military. Maybe even most.

But, there is not way this accounts for all UFO sightings. Too many "impossible" feats been observed to try to account for all of them as terrestrial.

UFOs are still very real, in spite of this explaining many of them.

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 10:11 AM
Outstanding work! This type of work is very much in need as well. People interested in the subject need to swim through an ocean of photoshop garbage let alone climb a mountain of alphabet letter agency disinfo. People need to remember this work when reviewing cases and consider the potential for gov disinfo in every aspect of the sighting.

Well done!

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 10:14 AM
Gene Poteat is a good guy to follow on this sort of stuff. I've seen some great writeups by him and they are quite accurate and well written with the exception of the bits he has to leave out. If it's in there, it's right.

eta: it's really really tough to use radar to create lower atmospheric plasma in free air. The recombination times are so brief, and radio waves have a very low energy per photon.

You can create sea level plasma with radio waves in resonant cavities. Very very hard to do it at ground level in free air. You get up over 50,60 thousand feet or so, it's easier.

Now, you can make low altitude plasma with radioactive paint, or lasers, or big honkin' electron guns. But it's tough to do with radar.
edit on 25-1-2015 by Bedlam because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 10:54 AM
I was just rereading the DC invasion as covered in "UFOs and Government". The comment was made that the UFOs behaved as if it was display, as if the US was the target of a flying psyop.

I'm not familiar with the Soviet capabilities of the era. Could the USSR have been spoofing radar ghosts?

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 11:27 AM
a reply to: mirageman

great thread - i first heard about project palladium and the ability to manipulate radar in mark pilkington's book, and it certainly opens up interesting possibilities for ufology

however, a lot of the evidence i've seen to date is pretty anecdotal - obviously military technology doesn't tend to be spoken of publicly, and what is public can be misleading for obvious reasons

The March 1957 edition of ‘Aviation Research and Development’ magazine (page 22) had already revealed how radar spoofing technology had improved and was now used in the civilian domain for training radar operators .

"A new radar moving target simulator system which generates a display of up to 6 individual targets on any standard radar indicator has been developed... to train radar operators... and for in-flight testing of airborne early-warning personnel... Target positions, paths, and velocities can... simulate... realistic flight paths... Speeds up to 10,000 knots are easily generated... The target can be made to turn left or right... For each target there is... adjustment to provide a realistic scope presentation."

i wonder if you've got a link to the full article - from the quote it's not clear how the targets are simulated for the trainees - it might be a case of plugging something into the scope to produce images, rather than a technique that was hoaxing the whole system as it were (hope that makes sense)

any idea about specific systems and how they work? - that would help show any possible connection to specific ufo cases

edit on 25-1-2015 by aynock because: filled out

edit on 25-1-2015 by aynock because: filled out

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 11:32 AM
a reply to: mirageman

Wonderful thread

I shall be coming back to this one later this evening. Thanks for taking the time.

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 11:45 AM
a reply to: mirageman

Definitely S&F.



posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 11:57 AM
Very nice thread indeed. My opinion is :

Suppose that extraterrestrials are visiting the earth is true.

It is highly possible that among 1,000 sighting incidents, none has any relationship with extraterrestrials; among 10,000 sighting incidents, none has relationship with extraterrestrials; among 100,000 sighting incidents, one or two may have relationship with extraterrestrials.

a more reality-kind of analogy is if we suppose that extraterrestrials have made crop circles is true, it is possible that they had just made one or two and the rest of circles were man made.

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 12:02 PM
a reply to: mirageman

Excellent thread and research Mirageman. Thank You!

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 12:04 PM
I for one would love to wake up tomorrow morning, and encounter a new world. One where we are truly not alone in the universe. One where our paradigms are challenged. One where we are forced to grow and expand. Not only in knowledge, but in understanding.

However, I am not so naive as to believe that this would necessarily be a rosy picture for us here on Earth.

Enlightenment is often the last thing a fly encounters in the split second before a fly swatter hits it.

All things being said, whatever desire for the outcome of truth may or may not be on my part, I appreciate your post here. It is HIGHLY plausible, possible, and most likely downright probable that the proposed aspects of Project Palladium greatly impact what we see, hear, and think.

After all, what else are the CIA and the NSA here for?


posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 12:08 PM
OP, if you like this sort of thing, you might pick up "Wizards of Langley" by Richelson, which is also pretty accurate as far as it goes.

posted on Jan, 25 2015 @ 12:55 PM
a reply to: mirageman

I was hoping you would run with this! Kind of confirms my suspicions that there really is no way to pin down "Palladium" to any specific case with any degree of certainty. Good work.

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