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What was CIA Project 10073? Exploring the UFO Documents

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What was CIA Project 10073? Exploring the UFO Documents
The TV show “The X-Files” (1) depicts the adventures of a pair of fictional FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who investigate unusual phenomena, especially UFO sightings (2).

The series, which was recently revived, also depicted a top secret conspiracy that tied into the idea that aliens have been visiting the Earth and that the government knows about it and is covering it up.

However, it looks like the CIA had its own version of the X-Files, known as Project 10073.

According to CNET (3), the Central Intelligence Agency conducted its own investigations of UFO sightings from the 1940s through the mid-1960s, similar to the more famous Air Force effort, Project Blue Book.

The information has been public for years, but is now in an easily searchable database, courtesy of America’s spy agency.

The CIA’s Project 10072 Sought to Answer Two Questions

First, did the UFOs constitute a threat to national security? The objects and lights that people were seeing in the sky did not necessarily have to be of other worldly origin to be a danger to the United States. Officials in the CIA entertained the possibility that some of the UFOs were Soviet in origin.

Both sides in the Cold War conducted highly classified programs to develop advanced aircraft for various missions. One such program developed the U-2 spy plane that overflew the Soviet Union until one such vehicle, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down by a Russian missile. The CIA wondered if the Soviets had their own equivalent of such a vehicle.

The other question that the CIA asked was, did UFOs contain advanced technology that could be of use to the United States? The idea that a UFO could be obtained and used in such a way sounds like the scenario that UFO believers tell each other about the so-called Roswell incident, which feature prominently in the revival of “The X-Files.”
The CIA version of the X-Files even has some helpful hints on how to investigate a UFO sighting.

“Some of the advice includes establishing a group to investigate and evaluate sightings; consult with experts; create a reporting system to organize incoming cases; eliminate false positives; develop a methodology to identify common aircraft and other aerial phenomena often mistaken for UFOs; gather and test physical and forensic evidence, discourage false reporting, and more.

“The CIA also suggests determining the objectives of your investigation, like whether the UFO sightings present a threat to the security of the US or if the UFOs exhibit any technological advances which could be channeled into US research and development.”


Skepticism about Supposed Transparency

Naturally the sudden transparency of an agency whose purpose is to keep secrets is being met with skepticism among some UFO enthusiasts. An Italian site called “Fanwwave” (4) suggests that the CIA is still trying to hide the truth, which is surely out there.

“Sometimes the best way to divert attention is to expose in plain sight a bait: the 10 Cia Xfiles serving perhaps to this, to prevent the renewed interest in the Ufo phenomenon and the conspiracies, which the new X-Files series is further amplifying, ends up to find evidence of what Ufos are really, that are alien or terrestrial?”

The CIA version of the X-Files is arranged like an old-fashioned card catalog that the public library used to have. The information includes things like the number of objects, their location, their course, the people who reported the sighting, and the likely cause of the sighting.

Invariably, UFO sightings are ascribed to things like weather balloons, meteors, astronomical phenomena, or, in a couple of cases, unknown or insufficient data.

If you’re the sort of perpson who believes in conspiracies, you are not likely to be convinced that the CIA’s UFO archives constitute the whole story. But it does constitute important historical documentation of a phenomenon that has excited and puzzled humans for decades.

References & Image Credits:
(1) IMDB
(2) TSW: Dr. Allen Hyneks Classifications UFOs Alien Encounters
(3) CNET
(4) FanWave

Originally published on

  • Jim Oberg

    If the CIA didn’t realize that UFO reports from the USSR often provided detailed technical specs on top secret Soviet missile/space events, they missed one of the biggest accidental breaches in Russian security ever. Biggest example — the ‘crescent-UFO’ [or ‘sickle’-UFO] wave of 1967-8 provided crucial reentry propulsion timelines for the USSR’s space-to-Earth nuclear delivery system ‘FOBS’.


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