The Pentagon’s former UFO chief has revealed his conclusion to one of the most famous UFO cases of the modern era: the Navy’s baffling ‘cube in a sphere’ UFO was just a super high-tech drone.
US Navy fighter pilots had reported seeing these other-worldly craft near the Atlantic coast between 2014 and 2015, which nearly tore the wing off an F/A-18 Super Hornet that was flying with the USS Roosevelt during one incident.
Now Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the Pentagon’s recently retired UFO chief, says that the objects were likely ‘next generation,’ ‘spherical’ drones that move ‘very accurately.’
While not confirmed, his description matches a drone-prototype made public by Chinese researchers in 2022 — a silver orb with eight thrusters configured at the tips of an internal cube, making it capable of unprecedented mid-air twists and turns.
The case highlights why UFOs must be taken seriously and not be subject to ridicule, Kirkpatrick suggested.
The Pentagon’s departing UFO chief, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, cited public ‘next generation’ drone research by academics in Singapore in an effort to explain the Navy’s ‘cube in a sphere’ UFO sightings. Above a ‘SpICED (Cube)’ drone prototype published by Chinese researchers in 2022
In an op-ed published by Scientific American last week, Dr. Kirkpatrick dismissed US Air Force veteran David Grusch as one of several ‘conspiracy-minded ‘whistleblowers” on UFOs. He emphasized that the Pentagon’s UFO mission should be focused on US foreign adversaries
Dr Kirkpatrick’s new comments come ahead of the Pentagon’s congressionally mandated ‘Historical Record Report’ on UFOs, due to lawmakers in June of 2024.
DailyMail.com was given an early draft transcript of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s appearance on CNN’s ‘In the Room with Peter Bergen,’ in which the physicist delved deeper into the national security risk that has come from stigmatizing eyewitness reports of UFOs.
‘That gap could potentially be exploited by somebody,’ Dr. Kirkpatrick told CNN, ‘put a platform in [the] continental United States that nobody knew was there.’
A longtime laser physicist, Dr. Kirkpatrick’s government service took him to the Air Force Research Laboratory, the CIA and a position at America’s highly secretive spy satellite agency the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) before chasing UFOs.
The physicist’s Air Force colleagues once nicknamed him ‘Dr. Evil’ after the laser-obsessed villain in the Austin Powers series of spy film spoofs.
‘One of my going away presents, as I was leaving the National Reconnaissance Office,’ Dr. Kirkpatrick told CNN national security reporter Peter Bergen, ‘was one of my close colleagues gave me a shark with a laser pointer strapped to its head.’
Dr. Kirkpatrick headed up the Pentagon’s then-brand new All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) from July 2022 until the end of December 2023, leveraging his scientific expertise toward the tricky task of investigating military UFO cases.
Last May, Dr. Kirkpatrick briefed NASA’s UFO advisory panel that AARO had logged roughly 800 cases of flying, spherical ‘metallic orb’ UFOs.
‘This is a typical example of the thing that we see most of,’ Dr. Kirkpatrick told the panel. ‘We see these all over the world and we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers.’
It’s unclear just how similar these metallic orbs may be to the UFOs first brought to public attention by former Navy lieutenant and fighter pilot Ryan Graves, who described them to Congress as ‘a dark gray or black cube inside of a clear sphere.’
But Dr. Kirkpatrick told CNN these otherworldly craft may very likely have been a foreign espionage platform.
‘There’s a large number of people, pilots, others, who have said, ‘Hey, I saw this giant sphere. It had a cube in it,” he said, ”I don’t understand it. It must be an alien.”
Swiss-based drone maker Flyability has also been producing spherical ‘gimbal’ drones since at least 2015. Both Flyability and the Singapore-based makers of the SpICED drone cited collision safety as their reasoning for pursuing these aircraft’s round designs – not airborne spying
‘Well, actually, no, there’s a number of papers out,’ Dr. Kirkpatrick continued in this early, uncut draft of his CNN podcast interview.
‘The most recent one was from, University of Singapore, I believe, where the next generation of drones that are being built are spherical.’
‘They’ve taken about a two-meter size, inflatable, and they put a cube inside of it,’ Dr. Kirkpatrick continued. ‘And everywhere the corner of the cube touches the sphere, they’ve fused it, cut it out, and put little thrusters in.’
‘So, now I have eight thrusters. And I can put cameras on it and anything else I want,’ the ex-AARO chief told CNN.
‘With eight thrusters in a cube configuration, I can maneuver this drone around very accurately.’
Scientists with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in China did, in fact, prototype a spherical drone along these lines, dubbed the ‘Spherical Indoor Coandă Effect Drone (SpICED)’ in a September 2022 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Drones.
The research team in Singapore noted that their new prototype, which benefited from an internal propulsion system with eight nozzles in a cube configuration, showed a promising 40 percent reduction in ‘trajectory control error’ during their test flights.
The SUTD’s ‘cube in a sphere’ drone prototype, they wrote, proved to be more swiftly and accurately maneuverable than their past internal ‘tetrahedron’ configuration.
But the Chinese-made drone is not the only novel unmanned spherical craft in production: Swiss-based Flyability has been producing ‘spherical’ drones since at least 2015, when it won a $1 million competition in the United Arab Emirates.
The makers of Flyability’s ‘gimbal’ drone and the SpICED balloon drone both cited collision safety as their reasoning for pursuing these unmanned aircrafts’ round designs — not high maneuverability for clandestine spying.
But they are not the only actors pursuing this kind of aerospace research, according to AARO’s departing director.
‘They’ve tried these all over the place,’ Dr. Kirkpatrick told CNN.
‘There are a number of advanced technologies that are being commercialized that people don’t recognize,’ he said. ‘Why they go immediately to ‘this is extraterrestrial’ is another conversation.’
While playing a 2022 military UFO video taken by an MQ-9 Reaper drone in the Mid East, AARO director Dr. Kirkpatrick told NASA’s UFO advisory panel last May, ‘We see these [‘metallic orbs’] all over the world, and we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers’
Speaking to CNN’s Peter Bergen, Dr. Kirkpatrick emphasized that he sees more terrestrial, counter-intelligence and defense-oriented tasks as AARO’s primary reason for being.
‘The office’s mission is not to prove the existence of extraterrestrials,’ he said.
‘The office’s mission is to minimize technical and intelligence surprise. That is the primary mission.’
The laser physicist noted that last February’s Chinese spy balloon drama, when multiple objects were tracked and shot down within US and Canadian airspace, could be attributed to AARO’s work focusing on anomalous aerial activities.
‘Four major candidates’ have been interviewed to replace Pentagon UFO boss, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick (above), an anonymous source told DailyMail.com, following heated public sparring between the former CIA physicist and UFO whistleblowers, who ‘never did trust Sean,’ according to one UFO whistleblower’s attorney Daniel Sheehan
For years, national security reporters have speculated that the Navy’s ‘cube in a sphere’ UFOs might be related to a 1949 patent for an ‘airborne radar reflector’ (schematic above) filed with the US Patent and Trade Office by Washington DC resident Leon Chromak
In the past, Dr. Kirkpatrick told CNN, ‘in the long list of things that they need to be paying attention to, this one was at the bottom of that list.’
‘So, there is a gap — and no one fully, I think, appreciated until the last few years that that gap could potentially be exploited by somebody,’ he explained, ‘put a platform in, you know, [the] continental United States that nobody knew was there.’
But Dr. Kirkpatrick’s terrestrial approach during his 18-month tenure at AARO has not been without its critics — particularly over his very public disagreements with UFO whistleblower and fellow NRO veteran David Grusch.
Dr. Kirkpatrick expanded his own criticisms of Grusch in his new interview with CNN, describing him as someone who had ‘fallen to the influence’ of UFO ‘True Believers’ within the US military and private defense contractor Bigelow Aerospace, which investigated UFO cases on contract for the Pentagon from 2007 to 2012.
In a new op-ed published by Scientific American last week, Dr. Kirkpatrick further dismissed Grusch as one of several ‘conspiracy-minded ‘whistleblowers.”
Grusch, a former high-ranking US intelligence official, has accused the US military and its private contractors of illegally hiding evidence of crashed UFOs, recovered ‘beings,’ and even UFO-related deaths, both under oath to Congress and in the press.
For their part, these same UFO whistleblowers have accused Dr. Kirkpatrick of fostering an ‘atmosphere of disinterest,’ while others have suggested his superiors are secretly holding back AARO’s UFO investigation efforts.
Daniel Sheehan, the Harvard-trained lawyer who represented UFO whistleblower Luis Elizondo in his complaint to the Pentagon’s Inspector General, said last year to DailyMail.com, ‘really knowledgeable’ UFO whistleblowers ‘never did trust Sean.’
Instead, ‘what they were doing is they were going straight through to the Senate Intelligence Committee,’ Sheehan said.
(To be sure, however, some military UFO witnesses have also described ‘really positive’ experiences with the Dr. Kirkpatrick’s office.)
Scientists with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in China, published their prototype spherical drone (above) in a Sept. 2022 issue of the journal Drones. The cube configuration, they wrote, showed a 40 percent reduction in ‘trajectory control error’
Swiss-based Flyability entered their own spherical drone (above) into a contest launched by the Prime Minister’s Office of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE competition was billed as the ‘World Cup of Drones,’ with over 800 submitted entries from 57 countries
Flyability won $1 million in the UAE’s ‘Drones for Good’ competition in 2015 for their ‘gimbal’
In portions of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s CNN podcast interview, which appear to have been cut before air, the retired government scientist commented that AARO’s benefit to the US Intelligence Community (IC) was its latitude to conduct domestic surveillance ‘We filled a gap,’ he told CNN
In portions of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s CNN podcast interview — which appear to have been cut before air — the retired government scientist commented that AARO’s benefit to the US Intelligence Community (IC) was its latitude to conduct domestic surveillance.
‘We filled a gap,’ Dr. Kirkpatrick told CNN. ‘The intelligence community is prohibited by law from observing [the] continental United States, right?’
‘And so, the only people that actually have authority to do that, really, are FBI, Homeland Security, [and] a few other counter-intelligence elements across the IC,’ he noted, ‘but that’s pretty much it.’
‘No one fully, I think, appreciated until the last few years that that gap could potentially be exploited by somebody […] And that’s where you ended up with Chinese balloons,’ he said.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Peter Bergen and a spokesperson for his CNN podcast, in an effort to learn why these statements were deleted from the final version of the new interview. This article will be updated with their response.