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Project PALLADIUM – the CIA makes UFOs appear on radar

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Wait, what?

We don’t have to remind anybody that the Cold War was a period of great tensions. Understandably, the parts involved wanted to get a technological edge on one another. At first, the United States had an advantage over the Soviet Union in the form of the A12 reconnaissance aircraft.

The A12 was the pinnacle of Lockheed Martin’s famed Skunk Works and it reached speeds in excess of 2,400 mph while maintaining a cruise altitude of around 97,000 feet. This highly advanced aircraft enabled the U.S. to keep a watchful eye over the Soviet Union because they were virtually invisible to their radar systems. But things changed when the Soviets developed an improved radar and surface-to-air missiles.

The U.S. needed to gain the upper hand but that was easier said than done considering the lack of information about the systems the Soviets had just implemented. That’s when the CIA came up with Project Palladium.

Simply put, the project’s main objective was to trick the Soviet radar. In order to do so, the CIA mounted a system on the A12 aircraft that emitted false signals, confusing the enemy radar. The system is described by retired senior CIA executive Eugene Poteat in a declassified CIA document:

[…]I came up with a scheme to electronically generate and inject carefully calibrated false targets into the Soviet radars, deceiving them into seeing and tracking a ghost aircraft.

Basically, we received the radar signal and fed it into a variable delay line before transmitting the signal back to the radar. By smoothly varying the length of the delay line, we could simulate the false target’s range and speed. Knowing the radar’s power and coverage from the PPMS (Power and Pattern Measurement Systems) projects, we could now simulate an aircraft of any radar cross section from an invisible stealth airplane to one that made a large blip on Soviet radar screens–and anything in between, at any speed and altitude, and fly it along any path.”

If this isn’t an accurate description of what a UFO would look on radar, we don’t know what is.

The system was clever and undoubtedly managed to fool the Soviets but it had one major weakness: it couldn’t prevent the A12 from being picked up by radar. Despite creating a wide variety of dummy targets, the real one was also visible and thus vulnerable.

This problem nearly solved itself when the Soviets decided to move their radar operations to Cuba. The CIA saw this as a golden opportunity so they simply fitted one of their Palladium systems onto a destroyer and navigated it in the waters surrounding the island.

The CIA’s ingenious radar spoofing sent the Cuban pilots on a wild goose chase on more than one occasion. And while the UFOs it created were nothing more than radar glitches, it didn’t seem that way to the Soviet forces.

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“They fell for it, Jim, they fell for it!”

So, there you go, undeniable proof that the Central Intelligence Agency was behind some of the UFO sightings.

UFO skeptics often refer to the technique of radar spoofing in their effort to debunk sightings. In reality, Project Palladium and its successors can only be held accountable for UFO incidents that involved radar detection.

The rest remain safely unexplained.

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