LAS VEGAS - Officially, the U.S. government ended its study of UFOs in 1969 because -- it assured the public -- there is no proof the phenomena represents a threat to national security.
But what if these unknown aircraft showed an interest in our nuclear weapons?
A group of more than 150 military veterans, missile officers, and security personnel, including many who worked at the Nevada Test Site, say they've seen mystery intruders over nuclear facilities.
In the darkest days of the Cold War, atomic weapons were routinely exploded above ground at the Nevada Test Site, the most nuked placed on earth.
In 1955, 14 A-bombs were detonated as part of Operation Teapot, witnessed by thousands of military personnel in trenches, and by thousands of test site employees. But there were other observers as well.
"It was what we called flying saucers. They were pretty prevalent at the test site back then," said a former test site photographer.
At least a dozen former test site employees have told similar stories about unknown aircraft showing up hours or days after an atomic blast.
Author and investigator Robert Hastings has spent more than 40 years locating and interviewing military veterans, missile officers, and others who worked in various parts of the atomic weapons program, more than 150 of them so far. They've all told the same story.
"That, in fact, UFOs have routinely monitored our nuclear weapons dating back decades and that, on occasion, apparently have interfered with the functionality of those weapons," Hastings said.
In addition to the eyewitness accounts, thousands of pages of formerly-classified documents have been released to buttress these stories.
The I-Team's own Freedom of Information Act request filed in 1992 produced a thick stack of documents from the Department of Energy, indicating UFO incidents over every major atomic weapons facility dating to the late 1940s, over Los Alamos national lab, where the bombs were designed, over Hanford, where the plutonium was processed, but DOE has no records of any official sightings over what later became the Nevada Test Site. Hastings however, has found plenty.
"Civilians living near the proving grounds observed UFOs sometimes flying in formations and reported them to the ....."
This is a clip from a new documentary, the culmination of Hastings' years of research. The film includes chilling incidents where UFOs have not only infiltrated restricted airspace over nuclear missile bases, but on occasion, have disabled ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) and put the military on high alert. In one dramatic incident from the film, military photographers using telescopic lenses watched a UFO disable a warhead used in a missile test fired from Vandenberg.
"Flying over the Pacific suddenly this domed disc came into frame, circled the warhead, which is flying at 8 or 10,000 miles-per-hour, shot four beams of light at it, whereupon the dummy warhead fell into the Pacific Ocean and the UFO left the vicinity," Hastings said.
UFO incidents at the Nevada Test Site became so routine, according to a former security officer named Walter Levine, that teams were assigned the job of specifically looking for them from inside a specially-equipped building at Indians Springs Air Force Base now known as Creech. Levine told Hastings:
"They were all luminous, they were disc-shaped, some of them were square-shaped. We were to pick up a telephone in this little shack. There was no dial tone. A voice would just come on. We would read off all these coordinates, the direction of the object, etcetera, then when we wrote this stuff down on a piece of paper, we were to burn the paper in a trash can in the shack," Hastings said.
The government ended atomic weapons tests years ago, but Nevada incidents continue. Former security officers at Area 2 at Nellis Air Force Base, for years a storage facility for up to 200 nuclear warheads, have reported multiple intrusions by unknown aircraft from the late 1990s through 2004.
Who's behind these incidents and why?
"Who knows what their motivation is?" Hastings said.
Similar incidents have been reported in the UK, India, Pakistan and other nuclear powers. In the 1990s, the I-Team traveled to Russia twice and obtained classified documents about frightening incidents there.
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