The Silent Ventus drone, designed by Florida-based startup Undefined Technologies, uses ion propulsion technology. According to the drone's specs, electrodes ionize the air to generate thrust, allowing the Silent Ventus drone to fly "incredibly quietly."
The drone can also hover in the air against winds -- a feature of several UFO sightings reported by military personnel.
According to some drone experts, sightings like the famous 2004 "Tic Tac" UFO sighting, where pilots reported spotting a craft resembling a Tic Tac mint performing impossible maneuvers during a training mission with the USS Nimitz off the Southern California coast, could be explained by today's hi-tech drones.
For instance, the Silent Ventus ion-propelled eVTOL drone can generate 150 percent more thrust than other rival drones. Undefined Technologies also claims it could fly with noise levels below 70 decibels (dB). While ion drives are common in satellites and spacecraft, it is less common on Earth. (Related: TESTIMONY: U.S. military may be reverse-engineering UFO technology to make new weapons.)
Dr. Shaun Passley, a drone expert and CEO and Founder of Zenadrone, said Undefined Technologies' "silent" drone seems like it can fly through the air "without visible or audible propulsion."
He believes that advanced drone technologies such as ion propulsion, "morphing" drones and drones with ranges of several hundred miles may be behind several reported UFO sightings.
Passley explained that modern drones can change direction quickly and hover in place, making them look like they have advanced propulsion systems. These modern drones can also fly at speeds of up to 200 mph and perform acrobatic maneuvers that "defy gravity."
To the untrained eye, modern drones that can perform various tasks and functions can seem like UFOs or unidentified aerial phenomenona (UAP). Drones designed to be stealthy and avoid detection by radar, infrared or visual sensors could also be mistaken for UAPs or UFOs.
Passley noted that these drones often use adaptive materials or coatings to blend in with the background or mimic other objects, like balloons or birds in flight.
Other modern drones like the EPFL FlyJacket, the MIT Dragon and the NASA Puffin can also "change shape" in flight by unfolding wings, arms or propellers, added Passley.
Meanwhile, Pentagon officials think that some of the 144 UFO sightings discussed in a recent report are due to surveillance drones from China.
Verge Aero, a company that specializes in drone swarm technology, has demonstrated how drones can create complex shapes and patterns that could be mistaken for UFOs.
Dr. Ajaz Ali, course director in Computer Science at Ravensbourne University London, said there is a long history of unmanned craft and spy craft being mistaken for extraterrestrials.
He said several countries, like the U.S. and the Soviet Union, have been experimenting with high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft such as the U-2 spy planes since the Cold War. But because the public is unfamiliar with developments in flying technologies, these military missions and sightings of objects that seem unusual compared to conventional aviation norms may have contributed to the UFO lore.
Ali explained that in 2013, a declassified CIA report detailing the U-2's reconnaissance missions during the 1950s and 1960s showed that these secret aerial operations coincided with existing reports of UFO sightings.
This revelation suggests that covert military drone activities can sometimes contribute to the creation of UFO narratives. Even now, modern drones that have permeated civilian and commercial spaces also contribute to UFO sightings.
"From miniature quadcopters that you can fly indoors to sophisticated fixed-wing UAVs, their shapes and sizes vary widely, often resembling the very 'flying saucers' and strange aerial phenomena that have [fueled] UFO reports for decades," concluded Ali.
But can all UFO and UAP sightings be explained by modern drones and covert drone activities?
Commander David Fravor’s famous Tic-Tac UFO video was released in 2004. Almost 20 years after this sighting, Undefined Technologies still hasn't come close to the technology that Fravor witnessed. In fact, the Silent Ventus drone provides more proof that the sightings can’t all be modern drones.
Fravor said he saw the "Tic Tac" drone while he was the Commanding Officer of the "World Famous Black Aces" for the Air Force. Fravor and his fellow pilots saw "a small white Tic Tac-shaped object with the longitudinal axis pointing N/S and moving very abruptly over the white water."
He said the drone didn't have rotors, a rotor wash or any visible flight control surfaces like wings.
According to Fravor, the "Tic Tac" object had traveled 60 miles in less than one minute, which was faster than his brand-new F/A-18F. The object also did not operate with any of the known aerodynamic principles that are expected of normal objects that fly in the atmosphere.
Fravor said the drone was also able to jam their aircraft’s radar, which the Silent Ventus is incapable of.
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