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The French COMETA UFO Report

On Friday July 16, 1999 an important document was published in France entitled "UFOs and Defense: What must we be prepared for?" ("Les Ovni Et La Défense: A quoidoit-on se préparer?"). This ninety-page report is the result of an in-depth study of UFOs, covering many aspects of the subject, especially questions of national defense. The study was carried out over several years by an independent group of former "auditors" at the Institute of Advanced Studies for National Defense, or IHEDN, and by qualified experts from various fields. Before its public release, it has been sent to French President Jacques Chirac and to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.


In its conclusion, COMETA claims that the physical reality of UFOs, undercontrol of intelligent beings, is "quasi-certain." Only one hypothesis takes into account the available data: the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitors. This hypothesis is of course unproven, but has far-reaching consequences. The goals of these alleged visitors remain unknown but must be the subjectof speculations and prospective scenarios.


The report is prefaced by General Bernard Norlain of the Air Force, former Director of IHEDN, and it begins with a preamble by André Lebeau, former President of the NationalCenter for Space Studies (Centre National D’études Spatiales), or CNES, the Frenchequivalent of NASA. The group itself, collective author of the report, is an association of experts, many of whom are or have been auditors of IHEDN, and it is presidedover by General Denis Letty of the Air Force, former auditor (FA) of IHEDN.

Its name "COMETA" stands for "Committee for in-depth studies." A non-exhaustive listof members is given at the beginning which is quite impressive. It includes:

  • General Bruno Lemoine, of the Air Force (FA of IHEDN).
  • Admiral Marc Merlo, (FA of IHEDN).
  • Michel Algrin, Doctor in Political Sciences, attorney at law (FA of IHEDN).
  • General Pierre Bescond, engineer for armaments (FA of IHEDN).
  • Denis Blancher, Chief National Police superintendent at the Ministry of the Interior.
  • Christian Marchal, chief engineer of the national Corps des Mines and Research Director at the National Office of Aeronautical Research (ONERA).
  • General Alain Orszag, Ph.D. in physics, armaments engineer.

The committee also expresses its gratitude to outside contributors includingJean-Jacques Vélasco, head of SEPRA at CNES, François Louange, President ofFleximage, specialist in photo analysis, and General Joseph Domange, of theAir Force, general delegate of the Association of Auditors at IHEDN.


General Norlain explains in a short preface how this committee was created.General Letty came to see him in March 1995, when he was Director of IHEDN,to discuss his idea of a committee on UFOs. Norlain assured him of his interestand referred him to the Association of Auditors of IHEDN, which in turn gavehim its support. As a result, several members of the committee come from theAssociation of Auditors of IHEDN, joined by other experts.

It is interesting to recall here that, twenty years ago, it was a report of thatsame Association which led to the creation of GEPAN, the first unit for UFO study,at CNES.

Most of the committee hold, or have held, important functions in defense, industry,teaching, research, or various central administrations. General Norlain expresseshope that this report will help develop new efforts in France and lead toindispensable international cooperation.


General Letty, as president of COMETA, points to the main theme of the report,which is that the accumulation of well documented observations compels usnow to consider all hypotheses as to the origin of UFOs, especiallyextraterrestrial hypotheses. The committee then presents the contentsof the study. The first part consists of the presentation of some remarkablecases from both France and other countries.

In a second part, they describe the present organization of research, in Franceand abroad, and studies made by scientists worldwide which may provide partialexplanations of the UFO phenomenon, in accordance with known laws of physics.The main global explanations are then reviewed, from secret crafts toextraterrestrial manifestations.

In a third part, measures to be taken regarding defense are considered, based oninformation from both civilian and military pilots. Strategic, political andreligious consequences, should the extraterrestrial hypothesis be confirmed,are then discussed.

Part I :

Many of the cases selected are well known by most researchers, and need onlybe mentioned here.

  • Testimonies of French pilots:

    • M. Giraud, pilot of Mirage IV (1977) .
    • Colonel Bosc, fighter pilot> (1976).
    • Air France flight AF 3532 (January 1994).
    • Aeronautical cases worldwide.

    • Lakenheath (U.K., 1956).
    • RB-47 (U.S., 1957).
    • Teheran (1976).
    • Russia (1990).
    • San Carlos de Bariloche (Argentina, 1995).
  • Observations from the ground:

    • Tanarive (1954) Observation of a saucer near the ground by a French pilot, J.-P. Fartek (1979).
    • Observation at close range over a Russian missile site by several witnesses (1989).
  • Close encounters in France:

    • Valensole (Maurice Masse, 1965).
    • Cussac, Cantal (1967).
    • Trans-en-Provence (1981).
    • Nancy (the "Amarante" case, 1982).
  • Counter-examples of explained phenomena (two cases).

    Although the selection is limited, it seems to be sufficient to convince an uninformed but open-minded reader of the reality of UFOs.

Part II The Present State of Knowledge":

The second part begins with a survey of the organization of official UFO researchin France, from the first instructions given to the gendarmerie in 1974 for therecording of reports, to the creation of GEPAN in 1977, its organization and itsresults, including collection of more than 3,000 reports from the gendarmerie,cases studies, and statistical analyses.

It then surveys agreements passed by GEPAN and, later, SEPRA, with the airforce and the army, the civilian aviation and other organizations, such ascivilian and military laboratories, for the analysis of samples and photographs.

Regarding SEPRA’s methods and results, we are reminded of some famous cases(Trans-en-Provence, l’Amarante), and emphasis is placed on catalogues ofcases, notably of pilots (Weinstein catalogue), and radar/visual reportsworld wide.

A historical note appears here with a quotation of the famous letterof General Twining, of September 1947, which even then asserted the reality of UFOs.

The following chapter, called "UFOs: Hypotheses and attempts at modeling"("OVNI: hypothèses,essais de modélisation") discusses some models and hypotheseswhich are under study in several countries. Partial simulations have alreadybeen made for UFO propulsion, based on observations of aspects such as: speed,movements and accelerations, engine failure of nearby vehicles, and paralysisof witnesses. One model is MHD propulsion, already tested successfully in water,and which might be achieved in the atmosphere with superconducting circuits,in a few decades. Other studies are briefly mentioned regarding both atmosphericand space propulsion, such as particle beams, antigravity, or reliance onplanetary and stellar impulsion.

It is suggested that the failure vehicle engines may be explained bymicrowave radiation. In fact, high power hyperfrequency generators are under study in France and other countries. One application is microwaveweapons. Particle beams, such as proton beams, which ionize the air andtherefore become visible, might explain the observation of truncated luminousbeams. Microwaves might explain body paralysis.

In the same chapter global explanatory hypotheses are studied next. Hoaxesare rare and easily detected. Some nonscientific theories are discarded,such as conspiracy and manipulation by very secret, powerful groups. Alsorejected are parapsychological phenomena, and collective hallucinations.The hypothesis of secret weapons is also regarded as very improbable, asis "intoxication" or hysteria at the time of the Cold War, along withnatural phenomena.

We are then left with various extraterrestrial hypotheses. One versionhas been developed in France by astronomers Jean-Claude Ribes and Guy Monnet,based on the concept of "space islands" of American physicist O’Neill, andit is compatible with present-day physics.

The organization of UFO research in the United States, Great Britainand Russia is rapidly surveyed. In the United States, the media and thepolls show a marked interest and concern of the public, but the officialposition, especially of the Air Force, is still one of denial, more preciselythat there is no threat to national security. Actually, declassifieddocuments, released under FOIA, show another story, one of surveillanceof nuclear installations by UFOs, and the continued study of UFOs by themilitary and intelligence agencies.

The report stresses the importance, in the United States, of privateindependent associations. It mentions the briefing document Best AvailableEvidence [available from CUFOS see publications page] sent in 1995 to athousand personalities worldwide, and the Sturrock workshop in 1997, bothsponsored by Lawrence Rockefeller. The Best Available Evidence has obviouslybeen welcomed by the authors of the COMETA report.

The committee also notes the public emergence of alleged insiders such asColonel Philip Corso, and concludes that his testimony might be partiallyrevealing as to the real situation in the U.S., despite its many critics.

The report briefly describes the situation in Great Britain, with aspecial mention of Nick Pope, and poses the question of the possibleexistence of secret studies pursued jointly with American services.It mentions as well research in Russia, and the release of some information,notably by the KGB in 1991.

Part III UFOs and Defense:

In the third part the report states that if it is true that no hostileaction has been proven yet, at least some acts of intimidation have beenrecorded in France (the Mirage IV case, for instance). Since the extraterrestrialorigin of UFOs cannot be ruled out, it is therefore necessary to study theconsequences of that hypothesis at the strategic level, but also at thepolitical, religious and media/public information levels.

The first chapter of Part III is devoted to prospective strategies and it beginswith fundamental questions. What if UFOs are extraterrestrial? What intentionsand what strategy can we deduce from their behavior?

Such questions open a more controversial part of the report. Possible motivationsof extraterrestrial visitors are explored here, such as protection of planetEarth against the dangers of nuclear war, suggested for instance by repeatedflying over nuclear missile sites. The committee then ponders the possiblerepercussion on the behavior, official or not, of different nations andfocuses on the possibility of secret, privileged contacts which might be"attributed to the United States." The attitude of the U.S. is seen as"most strange" since the 1947 wave and the Roswell event. Since thattime, a policy of increasing secrecy seems to have been applied, whichmight be explained by the protection at all cost of military technologicalsuperiority to be acquired from the study of UFOs.

Next, the report tackles the question "What measures must we take now?" At theleast, whatever the nature of UFOs, they require "critical vigilance," in particularregarding the risk of "destabilizing manipulations." A kind of "cosmic vigilance"should be applied by the elites, nationally and internationally, in order toprevent any shocking surprise, erroneous interpretation and hostile manipulation.

Nationally, COMETA urges the strengthening of SEPRA, and recommends the creationof a committee at the highest level of government, entrusted with the developmentof hypotheses, strategy, and preparation of cooperative agreements with Europeanand other foreign countries. A further step would be that European states and theEuropean Union undertake diplomatic action with the Unites States within theframework of political and strategic alliances.

A key question of the report is "What situations must we be prepared for?" Itmentions such scenarios as an extraterrestrial move for official contact;discovery of a UFO/alien base on Earth; invasion (deemed improbable) andlocalized or massive attack; manipulation or deliberate disinformationaiming at destabilizing other states.

COMETA devotes special attention to "aeronautical implications," with detailedrecommendations aimed at various personnel, such as air staffs, controllers,weathermen and engineers. It also makes recommendations at the scientific andtechnical levels, aimed at developing research with potential benefits fordefense and industry. The report further explores the political and religiousimplications of UFOs, using as a model the perspective of our own explorationof space: How would we do it, how would we handle contacts with less advancedcivilizations?

Such an approach is not new to the well-informed readers of the abundantufological literature, but it has a special value here, being treatedseriously at such a level. The implications for the media and publicopinion are not neglected, with the problems of disinformation, fearof ridicule, and manipulation by certain groups.

In its conclusion, COMETA claims that the physical reality of UFOs, undercontrol of intelligent beings, is "quasi-certain." Only one hypothesis takesinto account the available data: the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitors.This hypothesis is of course unproven, but has far-reaching consequences.The goals of these alleged visitors remain unknown but must be the subjectof speculations and prospective scenarios.

In its final recommendations, COMETA stresses again the need to:

  • Inform all decision-makers and persons in positions of responsibility.
  • Reinforce means of investigation and study at SEPRA.
  • Consider whether UFO detection been taken into account by agencies engaged in surveillance of space.
  • Create a strategic committee at the highest state level.
  • Undertake diplomatic action with the Unites States for cooperation on this most important question.
  • Study measures which might be necessary in case of emergencies.

Finally, this document is accompanied by seven (7) appendices.

  • Radar detection in France.
  • Observations by astronomers.
  • Life in the Universe.
  • Colonization of space.
  • The Roswell case and possible disinformation.
  • Antiquity of the UFO phenomenon and elements for a chronology.
  • Reflection on various psychological, sociological and political aspects of the UFO phenomenon.

Mirage IV - UFO encounter, March 7, 1977:

"I had the impression of a shape and an important mass behind us, much larger than my Mirage. When we landed at Luxeuil, we were shaken."

Colonel René Giraud, French Air Force.

On March 7, 1977, at 08:34pm, Major René Giraud had engaged the autopilot of a Mirage IV supersonicnuclear capable bomber with Captain Jean Paul Abraham as navigator. They were returning from a night navigation exercise to theAir Force base of Luxeuil and were in the region of Chaumont in the department of Haute Marne,flying at an altitude of 9750 meters and a speed of Mach 0.9, under excellent visibility conditions.

They noticed a brilliant light coming towards their Mirage from their exact right and on a collision coursewith them, and first thought it may be a jet fighter, but whenthey radioed to the ground control at Contrexéville for reporting it and getting it identified, they learnedthat the ground radar showed nothing and that no other aircraft was known to be in that area.The ground controller asked them to check their oxygen, which indicates that he thought the pilotsmay be hallucinating.

The light appeared bigger and bigger as it approached their aircraft from their rear right.The pilot was flying at Mach 0.98 and made a turn to the right and then to the leftto make sure the light was not a reflection of some sort on the cockpit. As he did thesemaneuvers, both of the crew could distinguish that the light was the front of a dark solid object.Despite the evasive maneuver, the unidentified object managed to stay exactly behind themfor a few seconds, a very dangerous situation if the unknown object were to be hostile.The then object made a turn to the North-West at an estimated speed of Mach II, and went away to theleft of the Mirage IV.

Giraud said later that though the object was away at that time, he felt like being observed, andtold Abraham: "you'll see, it will come back."

About 45 seconds later, the unidentified flying object or another one exactly similar reappearedat the rear right of the Mirage, and Giraud performed a second time the evasive maneuver, banking evensharper to the right at 6.5G then again to the left, while the UFO also performed the same pass thanthe first one, and then sped away.

Ground control was still unable to detect anything on radar, and the Mirage then returned safely to theAir Force Base at Luxeuil.

N.1 of the UFO special issues of the large audience French magazine VSD (www.vsd.fr)published an article about the case. The author has interviewed René Giraud who stated:

"That evening, in command of the Arbois bomber squadron, I have just carried out a night flight exerciseon board a Mirage IV bomber with my navigator, Captain Jean-Paul Abraham. We return to Luxeuil at analtitude of 9750 meters and at an approximate speed of 1000 kilometers per hour. We are above Chaumontwhen a gleaming light arrives toward us. It is identical to the signalisation headlight of a Mirage IIIjet fighter. Does the controller radar of Contrexéville sleep? The object continues to approach, on thesame level than us... It's not normal, he should remain below. I warn the ground controller, but hesays to me that there is absolutely nothing. And that thing approaches... It is not a plane, it is not amissile. I gently start to turn to the right. And it remains inside my turn, stuck to my trajectory.At once, I bank sharply. This object is straightforwardly pacing us at less than 1 km in our backas taking position to shoot us down! It flies much more quickly than me... And this will last 40 seconds!There is absolutely nothing I can do... I slow my turn down, and this thing leaves at an unbelievable speed!30 seconds after I had taken the direction of the Air base again, I say to my navigator: "Careful, thatthing will come back!... I feel that I am being observed! I turn very sharply to the rightafter having put the engines at full thrust. The object plays the same game again. Andthere, it come very near. I have an impression of a shape and large mass behind us, much largerthan my Mirage. Jean-Paul tries to take photographs. I slightly reverse my turn and the lightgoes again towards the West with a fantastic acceleration, producing some sort of a trail... When we landed at Luxeuil, we were shaken..."

Source: VSD Hors Série OVNIS N.1.

Internal discussion in the Air Forces about the incident made clear that the unidentified object was could only have been supersonic, although no sonic boom were reported in the area at that time, that no other known traffic was in the area, and that it was highly anomalous that the UFO did not appear on the ground control radarscope.

All the radio conversations between the crew and ground control were recorded and kept for some time,which allowed a written transcript.

Giraud, who came out of the Air Force with the rank of Colonel, expressed himself publicly onseveral occasion, including on French national TV, about this experience. While not ready to speculateon the nature of the object, he made clear that the UFO performed active maneuvers in reaction tothe presence of the Mirage, and reactive maneuvers when the Mirage IV took evasive action, as ifan intelligence piloted it.

The case is listed in Dominique Weinstein's famous near air misses between aircraft and UFOs catalogue.

The case is listed among other aeronautical UFO encounters in the famous French COMETA report 1999,a report on UFOs by a group of former high ranking Air Force military, former experts of the French Defenseinstitute, and other, intended to be read by the French President Jacques Chirac and his Prime MinisterLionel Jospin to alert them about the need for a serious consideration of Defense implications of the UFO phenomenon as a highly probable manifestation of extra-terrestrial presence.

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