Published: September 11, 2010, 12:44 pm
RAF fighter jets were scrambled 200 times a year to intercept UFOs during cold war, National Archive documents reveal
RAF fighters were scrambled 200 times a year to intercept unidentified targets on the radar of Britain’s air defence systems during the cold war right up until 1991, according to the latest batch of UFO files releasedby the National Archives today.
In the majority of these cases the mystery flying object penetrating Britain’s defences turned out to be a Soviet long-range reconnaissance or anti-submarine aircraft. According to a background note in an MoD file the last RAF fighter jet to be scrambled to investigate such a UFO took off in September 1991 in the immediate aftermath of the break-up of the Soviet Union.
But as the 18 sets of files released today – the sixth batch so far -show that while no RAF scrambles were recorded in the five years between 1991 and 1996, the public submitted more than 1,200 reports of sightings of UFOs.
Dr David Clarke, author of the UFO files, suggests that this surge in interest in the extraterrestrial was fuelled by the popularity of television shows such as the X-Files and movies like Independence Day and Men in Black.
The 5,000 pages, mainly of correspondence with the public, of Whitehall documents on UFOs released today plot changing official attitudes over 50 years to the “flying saucer” mystery.
They show that the question of possible alien landings was taken so seriously at the height of the cold war in the 1950s that Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee in April 1957 held a special presentation from the Air Ministry’s head of air intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Bill McDonald, on “unexplained aerial phenomena.” Four incidents that month involving UFOs tracked by RAF radar remained “unexplained."