The Chilean Military Has No Idea What This Flying Object Is

On the 11th of November, 2014, a Chilean Navy AS-532 Cougar helicopter equipped with a proven and powerful Wescam MX-15HD FLIR/EO turret captured a strange object flying across the sky. The helicopter was west of Santiago and near the ocean when the camera operator spotted another aircraft—or something—in their airspace, flying about 4,500 above the water. Visibility was excellent laterally, but there was a cloud layer at 10,000 and some broken clouds below. It was 50 degrees out and the helicopter was clipping along at 152mph when the sighting began. 

The Huffington Post reports that, just before 2pm, the FLIR operator noticed something in the distance with his naked eye. After pointing the Cougar’s FLIR in its direction, the object came into view much more clearly. It seemed to look like a helicopter operating a couple dozen miles away and traveling at about the same speed as the Cougar. 

The crew immediately began working with local radar controllers to spot the aircraft on their scopes, and to raise the unidentified aircraft flying in controlled airspace over the radio. All attempts at radar detection and communication were futile. Although the object was there visually, it seemed as if it didn’t exist as far as the various radar systems in the area were concerned. 

Over the next ten minutes the FLIR operator kept the MX-15 trained on the object and used the sensor’s infrared capabilities in dark-hot mode to obtain a well defined image of the target in question. After ten minutes the object started to be obscured by clouds and the Cougar crew had to return to base, ending its surveillance.  

The video was turned over to various government organizations, including military and the Chilean equivalent of the FAA, who collectively host an investigative subgroup that looks into these types of things—dubbed locally as UAPs, or unidentified aerial phenomena. Latin American culture is generally far less judgmental and open minded in regards to research of the unexplained—and UFOs.  

This group is named the CEFAA and is made up of academic researchers, scientists, technicians and military personnel. After many months of deliberation and examination of the evidence, the committee came up with no credible explanations as to what the MX-15 toting Cougar and its crew recorded that day. Not just that, but the aircrew’s highly professional report gave much more detail as to what the camera recorded. 

The pilot stated that the object was a“flat, elongated structure with two thermal spotlight-like discharges that did not coincide with the axel of motion.” The MX-15 operator stated that the object was “white with a semi-oval shape on the horizontal axis” and that “in two instances it discharged some type of gas or liquid with a high thermal track or signal.” Chilean Air Force photo specialists have gone through the film and have concluded that the footage is not only real, but the aircraft being filmed has true dimensional form and volume, and is under intelligent and independent control. 

The trails the object leaves behind are puzzling, as they appear to be released from two areas on the object, and are different in nature. Making the whole thing even odder is that the expulsions from the object were only visible when the camera was in IR mode. When it switched back to HD video, whatever was being released blended perfectly with the clouds around it. In other words, it appeared that the object was not only stealthy in nature, but whatever it was dispersing was too.  

The report at Huffington Post dives into all the various explanations that the committee investigating the sighting debunked and why. Without knowing the culture within the specific group investigating the incident, it may be a little challenging to take all their findings at face value. The truth is that looking through sensitive infrared devices while flying through the atmosphere can lead to some tricky illusions. Heat sources that look close up can be incredibly far away, and the dynamics of the camera moving, as well as clouds traveling at various distances and in various directions can lead to some puzzling imagery to say the least. 

Take a very similar case of Mexican military FLIR imagery that captured a formation of objects flying through the sky in 2004. This incident became very widely known and the principal subject of multiple television programs. For almost a decade the event was deemed inexplicable, but has since been sorted out, and fairly easily so. It just goes to show you that everything is not as it seems when it comes to evaluating two dimensional imagery—and especially single spectrum video from a monochrome FLIR camera mounted on an aircraft. 

On the other hand, in this instance the video depicting the object seemingly releasing a fluid or smoke-like substance is quite odd. Add the fact that two military pilots—trained and trusted observers—have given a straightforward account pointing toward no clear explanation lends credence to the mystery, at least for now.

If there is any group of people that would have ideas about what we’re seeing in this video from the Chilean Cougar crew, it’s our readers and commenters. What do you think it is? Is it explainable without moving into the realm of science fiction? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Tyler Rogoway


Tyler's passion is the study of military technology, strategy, and foreign policy and he has fostered a dominant voice on those topics in the defense media space. He was the creator of the hugely popular defense site Foxtrot Alpha before developing The War Zone.