The USS Nimitz UFO incident refers to a 2004 radar-visual encounter of an unidentified flying object by US fighter pilots of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. In December 2017, infrared footage of the encounter was released to the public. The encounter also included an engagement with the UFO by the Commander of the squadron, VFA-41.
A 2015 account of the incident on FighterSweep.com, interviews with one of the pilots, and subsequent news reports describe the sighting of an “unidentified flying object” by six Navy Super Hornet fighter jets over the Pacific Ocean in November, 2004.
According to The Washington Post, the video was released by former intelligence officer Luis Elizondo to shed light on a secretive Department of Defense operation to analyze reported UFO sightings, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
Numerous FOIAs were submitted regarding this event. There was a FOIA obtained that indicated four Marine Lt Colonels and a Marine Major were aware of the event and had witnessed the IR video of the unknown object. A number of documents were leaked to the internet with varied levels of credibility. Acceleration values for the performance characteristics of the object were made using statements from the USS Princeton radar operators, the F/A-18 pilots that saw the object disappear within a second, and acceleration values based on the IR video.
The Navy has now updated their protocols for pilots to report UFO sightings in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with such reports.
Skeptics have called into question the veracity of the pilots’ accounts, pointing out that the sighting could be explained by equipment malfunction or human error. On his part one of the witnesses, retired navy commander David Fravor, lamented the amount “of misinformation that [was] starting to come out through third and fourth parties” during a June 2018 interview.