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Project PALLADIUM Had Cuban Pilots Chasing UFOs

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Project PALLADIUM Had Cuban Pilots Chasing UFOs

During the 1960s, each side of the Cold War was in a race to get the technological edge on one another. Only a few short years prior to the ’60s, the CIA implemented projected OXCART.

The project consisted of a series of reconnaissance aircrafts (A-12s) that could reach speeds of mach 3.2, could easily reach a cruising altitude of 97,000 feet, and a range of 4,100 nautical miles.

For it’s time, these aircraft were technological marvels because they were virtually invisible to enemy radar. However, the Soviets were making their own advancements in the fields of radar and surface-to-air missiles (SAM).




The US needed a way to off-set the Soviets’ new advancements, but without any hard evidence concerning their radar and SAM range, such an edge would be difficult to gain. So the US made the decision to try and “fool” the Soviets’ advanced radar system with Project PALLADIUM.

Project PALLADIUM was the CIA’s attempt to generate and inject carefully calibrated false targets into the radar units to trick the enemy into seeing and tracking “ghost aircraft.” The idea was to use PALLADIUM in conjunction with the OXCART aircraft. When the stealth aircraft was in use, PALLADIUM would emit the false signals to confuse enemy radar. The project is best described by CIA researcher, Gene Poteat:

Basically, we received the radar signal and fed it into a variable-delay line before transmitting the signal back to the radar. By smoothly varying the length of the delay line, we could simulate the false target’s range and speed. Knowing the radar’s power and spatial coverage from the aircraft precision measurements, we could now simulate an aircraft of any radar cross section, from an invisible stealth airplane to one that made a large blip on Soviet radar screens — and anything in between, at any speed and altitude — and fly it along any prescribed path.

Though the system was ingenious, it did have its flaws. The largest flaw was that there was no way of knowing which of the blips the Soviets’ could pick up on their radar or which ones they were tracking.

However, the US had an opportunity to remedy this flaw and others when the Soviets’ and their advanced radar moved into Cuba. The CIA researchers mounted a PALLADIUM system on a destroyer and sailed it near the coast of Havana. Again, Gene Poteat described the entertaining test in great detail.

We had no trouble in manipulating the Palladium system controls to keep our ghost aircraft just ahead of the pursuing Cuban fighters. When the NSA team heard the Cuban pilot radio his controllers that he had the intruding aircraft in sight and was about to make a firing pass to shoot it down, we all had the same idea at the same instant. The engineer moved his finger to the switch, I nodded yes, and he switched off the Palladium system.

Though the ghost aircraft were not true UFOs, they were certainly unidentified to the Cuban fighter pilots. Later, this technique of “tricking” enemy radar would be called radar spoofing. Many UFO skeptics refer to radar spoofing and Project PALLADIUM, along with the possibility of earlier prototypes or later advancements, as the explanation behind most of the UFO sightings where radar is involved.

However, there are many Ufologists out there that assert that radar spoofing, such as Project PALLADIUM, explains very few cases of UFO sightings. There are many more sightings, even when radar is involved, that cannot be explained through PALLADIUM or any other type of radar spoofing. According to these Ufologists, spoofing ground radar is not enough to trick the wide variety of radar types that are sometimes deployed simultaneously.

Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com

  • Anonymous

    Good article.

    Project Palladium is very interesting, but I’d like to see more details. It’d be great if the 1998 ‘Stealth’ journal would be declassified to gain a broader picture. Poteat’s ‘watered-down’ article is fascinating on many levels, not least the contrived response to the false radar and sonar responses that led to conflict with the Vietnamese. Dark stuff indeed.

    Regarding the UFOs, it seems reasonable (if the article is accurate), that PP would be tested out on domestic installations before foreign nations. Chances are, AFBs that scrambled jets for erratic radar paints and no visual contact were unknowing test volunteers.

  • Anonymous

    Kandinksy – that’s an excellent point and that would be an excellent avenue to explore. As you mention, if additional information would be declassified, it would be fascinating to cross-check reported testing events with known reported “UFO” events!

  • Anonymous

    @Dube – There’s a handful of decent candidates. In particular, one at White Sands and one in the (dun dun dah!) Caribbean. Could be worth looking into?

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