Saturday, December 03, 2016

Tehran - September 18, 1976

(Blogger’s Note: John Greenewald and I discussed this case on the radio and I thought many would like to see a more information about it including the names of the various participants in the sighting. This is adapted from my book, The UFO
John Greenewald
Dossier, which details the UFO situation as it is seen around the world. This provides the best information available. You can look at the documents themselves by visiting
A Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document would later say, “A remarkable report. This case is a classic that meets all the necessary conditions for a legitimate study of UFO phenomenon.”
The series of sightings began with a routine telephone call made to the control tower at the Mehrebad Airport in Tehran. The night supervisor, Hossain Pirouzi, would later say that the first telephone call came in at about 10:30 p.m., from the Shemiran area of Tehran. The woman said that the object was about 3,000 feet above her, that its color changed from orange to red to yellow. It had a shape that she described as a fan with four blades. She wasn’t sure if it was a single object or two because it seemed to sometimes separate into two distinct pieces. Pirouzi told her not to worry about it because he would check it out.
But he didn’t bother to check it out. His radar systems were down because they were undergoing repair. At 10:45 p.m., he received a second call from a woman who had been on the roof of her house when she saw an object seeming to dart around. Like the first, she wasn’t sure if there was one object or two. She said that they seemed to divide into two and then joining up again. As he had done with the first, Pirouzi told her not to worry about it.
By 11:15 he had received four telephone calls about the object and although the trainees with him had been outside to search for the object without results, he was now curious. Taking a pair of binoculars with him, he walked out onto the balcony that surrounded the tower. Although he didn’t see it at first, he finally did spot it and as he would tell investigators, “I was amazed, flabbergasted.”
He said that the object looked like a bright star to the unaided eye, but through the binoculars he saw a rectangular shape that was about 6,000 feet overhead. Both the right end and left ends were blue and there was a red light in the center that while not flashing seemed to be rotating. The object also seemed to be oscillating.
Interestingly, four aircraft that transited the area reported that they had received an emergency radio beacon signal. They called the tower to ask if there had been some sort of aircraft accident or a crash but of course there were none. With this new information, Pirouzi began to worry and decided that it was time to alert the Iranian Air Force. At 12:30, now on September 19, Pirouzi called the duty officer and told him what he had seen. There still was no radar contact and other facilities that were alerted had nothing showing on their screens, but the distances and mountains might account for that.
The Duty Officer also alerted General Parviz Youssefi, who stepped out on his porch and saw the object. It was Youssefi who contacted the other radar facilities asking what they had on their scopes. Even without the radar confirmations, Youssefi ordered an F-4D Phantom into the air to investigate.
The Phantom launched at 1:30 a.m. and the pilot spotted the UFO almost immediately. Using Pirouzi as a relay, Youssefi ordered the aircraft to get as close as possible to the UFO to get a good look at it but to do nothing else. The pilot approached above the speed of sound and said the object was about half the size of the moon, and that it had violet, orange and white lights that were much brighter than moonlight.
He chased the object until he thought he was over the border and into Afghanistan. At that point he turned to head back to Tehran and saw that the object was still in front of him, but closer to Tehran. He was ordered to close on the UFO and when he was about 30 miles away his avionics, radios and electronics failed. When he maneuvered away from the UFO, the electronics came back on line but he was now running low on fuel. He had to end the chase.
According to Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood in Clear Intent, Charles Huffer using FOIA, received a report from the Defense Intelligence Agency that covered the details of the attempted intercepts. According to that document, the description of the second attempted intercept began:
At 0140 hrs [when] a second F-4 was launched. The backseater [the radar officer who sits behind the pilot in the F-4 cockpit] acquired a radar lock on at 27 NM [nautical miles] 12 o’clock position with the VC [rate of closure between the fighter and the object] at 150 NMPH [nautical miles per hour]. As the range decreased to 25 NM the object moved away at a speed that was visible on the radar scope and stayed at 25 NM.
The size of the radar return was comparable to that of a 707 tanker. The visual size of the object was difficult to discern because of its intense brilliance. The light that it gave off was that of flashing strobe lights arranged in a rectangular pattern and alternating blue, green, red and orange in color. The sequence of the lights was so fast that all the colors could be seen at once. The object and the pursuing F-4 continued on a course to the south of Tehran when another brightly lighted object, estimated to be one-half to one-third the apparent size of the moon, came out of the original object. This second object headed straight toward the F-4 at a very fast rate of speed. The pilot attempted to fire an AIM-9 [sidewinder] missile at the object but at that instant his weapons control panel went off and he lost all communications (UHF and interphone). At this point the pilot initiated a turn and negative G dive to get away. As he turned the object fell in trail at what appeared to be about 3 – 4 NM. As he continued in his turn away from the primary object the second object went to the inside of his turn then returned to the primary object for a perfect rejoin.
Shortly after the second object joined up with the primary object another object appeared to come out of the other side of the primary object going straight down at a great rate of speed. The F-4 crew had regained communications and the weapons control panel and watched the object approach the ground anticipating a large explosion. This object appeared to come to rest gently on the earth and cast a very bright light over an area of about 2 – 3 kilometers. The crew descended from their altitude of 25,000 to 15,000 and continued to observe and mark the object’s position. They had some difficulty in adjusting their night visibility for landing, so after orbiting Mehrabad [Airport] a few times they went out for a straight in landing. There was a lot of interference on the UHF and each time they passed through a mag. [magnetic] bearing of 150 degrees from Mehrabad they lost their communications (UHF and interphone) and the INS fluctuated from 30 degrees to 50 degrees. The one civil airliner that was approaching Mehrabad during the same time experienced communications failure in the same vicinity (Kilo Zulu) but did not report seeing anything. While the F-4 was on a long final approach the crew noticed another cylinder-shaped object (about the size of a T-bird at 10M) with bright steady lights on each end and a flasher in the middle. When queried the tower stated there was no other known traffic in the area. During the time that the object passed over the F-4 the tower did not have a visual on it but picked it up after the pilot told them to look between the mountains and the refinery.
During daylight the F-4 crew was taken out to the area in a helicopter where the object apparently had landed. Nothing was noticed at the spot where they thought the object landed (a dry lake bed) but as they circled off to the west of the area they picked up a very noticeable beeper signal. At the point where the return was the loudest was a small house with a garden. They landed and asked the people within if they had noticed anything strange last night. The people talked about a loud noise and a very bright light like lightning. The aircraft and area where the object is believed to have landed are being checked for possible radiation.

Attached to the report was an internal form that was titled, “Defense Information Report Evaluation.” This was an assessment of the quality of the Iranian sighting information that indicated the information was “confirmed by others sources,” and that the information value was “High (Unique, Timely, and of Major Significance),” and the information was “Potentially Useful.”
In the remarks section of the report, and as noted by the COMETA officials, this case was considered:
A remarkable report. This case is a classic that meets all the necessary conditions for a legitimate study of UFO phenomenon:
a. the object was seen by multiple witnesses in different locations [(i.e., Shemiran, Mehrabad, and the dry lake bed) and viewpoints (both airborne and from the ground)].
b. The credibility of many witnesses was strong (an Air Force general, qualified aircrews, and experienced tower operators).
c. Visual sightings confirmed by radar.
d. Similar electromagnetic effects (EME) were reported by three separate aircraft.
e. There were physiological effects on some crew members (i.e., loss of night vision due to the brightness of the object).
f. An inordinate amount of maneuverability was displayed by the UFOs.
The final comment about this in the COMETA report is, “The attempt by Klass to trivialize this case shows how solid it is.” This refers to Klass’ book, UFOs: The Public Deceived in which he claimed that the first witnesses saw Jupiter and pilot incompetence and equipment malfunctions accounted for the remained.
But one of those ground witnesses was General Youssefi who eventually ordered the interceptors into the air. When the launching airfield is taken into consideration which was west southwest of Tehran and the distance the first fighter traveled, Jupiter was about 90 degrees off where the UFO was reported.
Klass also claimed that the Westinghouse technician who was stationed at the Shahrokhi Air Base said that only the first of the F-4s reported equipment failure and that particular aircraft was known for equipment failures and had a history of electrical outages. This same man also suggested that the F-4 radar could have been in manual track causing a wrong interpretation of the radar lock. Or, in other words, the radar officer in the rear seat of the F-4, made an error that caused him to believe he had radar contact.
And keeping with his belief that meteors cause many UFO sightings, Klass pointed out that the Gamma Percids and the Eta Draconids meteor showers were at their height. He believed that it was likely that witnesses had been fooled by bright meteors.
He also suggested that where the falling light that supposedly crashed they found a beeping transmitter that came from a C-141 aircraft, according to a report filed by Lieutenant Colonel Mooy. But that isn’t exactly accurate. According to Mooy’s report, “… but as they circled off to the west they picked up a very noticeable beeper signal. At the point where the return was the loudest was a small house with a garden. They landed and asked the people within if they had noticed anything strange last night. The people talked about a loud noise and a very bright light like lightning….” So there was no mention of a C-141 in that report.
Jerome Clark, in his UFO Encyclopedia, probably put it best. He wrote of Klass’ attempted explanations:
No satisfactory explanation for the incident has ever been proposed, though Philip J. Klass, author of several debunking books on UFOs, would attempt one. In Klass’s view, the witnesses initially saw an astronomical body, probably Jupiter, and pilot incompetence and equipment malfunction accounted for the rest…. Klass’s theory presumes, without clear or compelling evidence, a remarkable lack of even rudimentary observing and technical skills on the parts of the Iranian participants. In some ways it would be easier to credit the notion, for which no evidence exists either, that the witnesses consciously fabricated the sighting.
Or, in other words, the skeptical argument against the reality of the sighting fails because of the assumptions made about evidence that does not exist. Klass is forced to invent explanations rather than look at the evidence that is gathered. And this does not address his dismissal of the aircrews as incompetent, based it seems, on their nationality rather than their actual abilities.


Gal220 said...

Brian Dunning was the last critical paper I saw on this one.

Be curious to know where most people rank this one, I would put it somewhere just past Levelland, Westall, Colares, Belgium and Portage County.

Something not often seen in most write ups is that one of our satellites picked up something during this event

"An impressive breakthrough in the confirmation of the Iranian UFO encounter was uncovered by researchers Lee Graham and Ron Regehr, of Aero-Jet in California. They confirmed that the UFO sighting over Tehran was, in fact, tracked by the United States military's DSP satellite. During their investigations, Graham and Regehr have located computer print-outs from the time frame of the Iranian UFO overflight, which show that the DSP definitely detected an "anomalous object" in Iranian air space.

Computer printout of the anomalous event with the classified term "238 SCANS - POSSIBLE SR." The term "238 SCANS" indicates that the event lasted more than an hour."

Unfortunate there is not more information than that, but it helps in disputing Dunning's argument that it was possibly Jupiter.

Matt Wiser said...

Kevin, have you read or seen any of Brig. Gen. Pervez Jafari's accounts? He was a Lieutenant at the time. He was the pilot of the second F-4 that night, and was flying an E model, not a D. His account was used in the DIA report, and he's been on UFO Hunters, I Know What I Saw, and a couple other documentaries on UFOs. He has also been interviewed by Dr. Richard Haines, and was at the National Press Club event in 2010.

Unfortunately, his backseat RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) has not been located and may have been a casualty of the Iran-Iraq War.

David Rudiak said...

Tehran would probably be on most researcher' top 10 UFO cases. A lot of official documentation treating the event with great seriousness, top-notch credible witnesses (including several Iranian generals going on record that this was an ET event), and physical evidence (radar contact, EM interference including disabling of jet interceptor electronics and selectively knocking out electronics at the Tehran control tower). Really impossible to debunk, though people like Klass tried with usual ridiculous theories.

It is these very hardcore, well-documented, inexplicable cases that are at the true heart of Ufology (including Socorro) and why people like me treat it seriously.

An old version of the Wikipedia article with more details (before debunkers destroyed the article, using censorship rather than facts to refute the story):

Anthony Mugan said...

Yes, this one does indeed merit careful consideration.

Some bits MIGHT fit prosaic explanations but the behaviour of the 'missiles' (or whatever they were) was very un-meteor like, for example, just to pick one element which is particularly difficult to explain. Given that the unusual series of coincidences needed to 'explain' much of the rest of it become very strained indeed.

Sounds much more like either a test of IIAF reactions or a demonstration of capability in a suitably ambiguous manner, which is a pattern that seems very common in the highest quality cases.

Matt Wiser said...

It was likely both: a test of IIAF reaction, and a demonstration of "their" capability.

Too bad the RIO/WSO from Jafari's F-4 has not been located. Either he was a casualty in the Iran-Iraq War, or was executed by the Mullahs sometime before that conflict began. His account would verify Jafari's.

William Strathman said...

My MOS was as a radar tech for USMC F-4N's during my service from '75-'81. That radar was very similar to the F-4C, D, and E radars in most respects.

I just reread Jafari's first-hand account of the incident in Leslie Kean's UFO book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record

Jafari seems clear. Evidently they had lock at least twice.

My suggestion to researchers would be to locate some bona fide long-time USAF F-4E radar techs, provable by DD214s, as well as F-4E aircrew if possible, and perhaps a Westinghouse tech rep, with pertinant F-4E radar manuals, which may be unclassified by now, and have them review Jafari's account, and even interview Jafari, if he'd do it.

As a radar tech who debriefed returning aircrew for gripes on the aircraft, I would have asked: "Did any circuit breakers trip? Did you have to reset any circuit breakers?" I have not read anywhere that any circuit breakers tripped, and if none were tripped, then the case is EXTREMELY remarkable, IMHO.

I'd also ask Jafari: while in pursuit of the object with radar lockon, when he switched from "radar" to "heat" [to be able to launch heatseeking AIM 9 Sidewinders] did he hear the "growl" in his headset, before everything went haywire in the cockpit? [The growl indicates that a Sidewinder is detecting a heat source. The pilot toggles the switch to jump to each Sidewinder to find the one with the loudest growl {best heat detection} and launch that one.]

I see the evidence as compelling for radar lockon of an anomalous object.

Anthony Mugan said...

William Strathman's questions sound to me as exactly the sort of well informed technical details that would be well worth following up on if anyone knows Major General Jafari, or knows someone who does...