Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO), the Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO), the Sea Fury encounter and UFOs

In a series of reviews, Keith Basterfield describes the contents of Department of Defence file 529/1/16 Part 1 titled "DSTO records of unidentified aerial phenomena", secured through his persistent efforts and the financial support of UFOR(NSW).  The contents were especially interesting to me as they confirmed the picture I had determined in my research and interviews with some of the parties described such as Harry Turner, George Barlow and John Farrands. The DSTO file also supplements the picture described in the JIO file release which Keith also facilitated.
The files confirm that the JIO & DSTO involvement were the legacy of Harry Turner who headed up the nuclear scientist section of DSTI within the JIO.  His role was pivotal in the continuing dance that DSTO & JIO had with UFOs.
Harry Turner (photo: B. Chalker)
Harry Turner and Bill Chalker in 2004
I describe the JIO role in my 2007 article  "The Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO) and UFOs - a matter of history" and a follow-up piece in 2008.
In terms of the recent interesting "cold case" of the famous "Sea Fury" encounter of 1954 (which puts forward the idea that Sabre jet aircraft were a possible explanation) I wrote in the 2007 JIO piece:
It was science and technology that drove the drift of JIB into the UFO controversy but the organisation always tried to limit its embrace with the controversy. JIO’s reluctant dance with the UFO spectre had its tentative beginnings back in 1954 with two key events – the secret Turner report on the RAAF’s Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) flying saucer files and the striking radar visual Sea Fury encounter. It was Harry Turner who wrote the report – an early “scientific appreciation” of the DAFI “flying saucer” reports. He argued for a serious investigation as the basis of his conclusion that their “unexplained” cases might well have an extraterrestrial basis. All this in a secret 1954 Australian study! The Sea Fury account leaked out into public eye by the end of 1954, but in secret the JIB had undertaken an investigation, one which the key witness – the Sea Fury naval pilot Lieutenant James O’Farrell – did not learn of until 1973 with the visit of former USAF consultant to Project Bluebook Dr. J. Allen Hynek. 

Since the Sea Fury aircraft was in 1954 one of the fastest planes in Australian skies the existence of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) that made the Sea Fury look as though it was “standing still”, it was perhaps inevitable that this unidentified technology was of serious concern. However the UFO subject was laden with problems that went far beyond the ambit of intelligence.
I conveyed this to Keith recently in light of the "Sabre" idea pointing out:
If the speed estimate - 1000 knots - put out in the Extraordinary mediated discussions with O'Farrell (the Sea Fury pilot) & Jessop (the Naval radar operator at Nowra) - were accurate then the Sea Fury UFOS/UAPs seem significantly beyond the Sabres, which O'Farrell would have been well aware of.  605 knots maximum speed for the Sabres, then a possible additional 300 knots would perhaps not be sneezed at and would I suspect trigger the "technology" "national security" flags for JIB back in the day. Hence it seems reasonable that a JIB investigation and file resulted.
I think the "SA ufologist" is overselling the suggestion that the Sabre could have readily accounted for the performances & behaviour of the UFOs/UAPs.  Again if accurate 1000 knots is a significant factor.  The Sea Fury 400 knots, the Sabres 605 knots, the UFOs/UAPs 1000 knots.
I would clearly like to revisit this speculation with more contemporary (1954 - 1955) intelligence & science related data from the JIB files if they are available, to see if it holds up.  Bob Mathams told me JIB DSTI (his division) were always on the look out for "foreign technology", both in comparative and superiority  senses.  He became JIB's first scientific intelligence analyst in  May 1955 until mid 1957.  Wouldn't surprise me if Matham's might have been involved at some level in the compilation and analysis of the Sea Fury JIB file.  He rejoined JIB in October 1958 at the first head of JIB's scientific Intelligence branch.  He didn't volunteer anything about a 1954/55 Sea Fury file, but I didn't know about it back in the mid 1980s.
I also highlighted the Naval News in 1984 reporting on James O'Farrell's retirement mentioned the existence of the JIO files.  In light of this I further highlighted:
It is intriguing that the Navy News in 1984 actually mentions that JIO held a file on the incident, (O'Farrell mentioned them to me in 1991)  (Ken) Llewellyn got that sort of info around 1991 or earlier. His book (("Flight into the Ages") has a copyright date of 1991, but it did not appear until late February 1992.  Llewellyn mangled a bit of it including the date which also confused "The Extraordinary" team until I corrected them.  Had O'Farrell been more inclined he could have corrected the errors, but he really wanted to minimise his involvement all round on this. This is why his viewing of the JIO (JOINT) files in 1973 courtesy of Tange would have been the perfect out for O'Farrell, on the eve of his departure for his US role.  Had a Sabre connection been the answer it would have been laid out in a JOINT Intelligence analyses. O'Farrell could then had easily declined to meet Hynek despite Tange insistence. Why bother if the files showed a Sabre answer. 
It seems apparent and reasonable based on the facts that the Sabre was not the answer and O'Farrell was forced one more time to get into his 1954 experience, despite his clear inclination not to.  Apart from the revelations for him in the file about other witnesses (ground witnesses) and the chinograph radar tracings, it seemed it was only his discussions with Farrands that kept his interest on the experience. Otherwise he would have kept it out of sight, out of mind.
I further pointed out:
I think O'Farrell's & Jessop's 1954 statements are classic examples of minimalist statements simply to satisfy formal requests for a report.  Neither are  detailed and Jessop's statement is very limited. Hence I suspect that Jessop's reference to O'Farrell not doing a 180 turn could be just a reference to the latter stages of the event, with the earlier part of the event not really detailed, doesn't eliminate the possibility that O'Farrell did indeed do an orbit.  The Jessop document simply doesn't give us much detail at all.  O'Farrell's statement, while a little more detailed, still lacks analytical detail. I hope that such detail might be in the JIB files, but that remains mere conjecture until we actually sight it.  O'Farrell refers to the Chinograph radar tracing. That would be useful to see as well as any further possible analytical detail that may or may not be present.
I recollect that I saw a lot of raw footage from the Extraordinary story including material and interviews with the base commander.  I will have to look through my old video archives if I actually have copies of this. I was impressed with the level of research and interviewing that went on for the piece. There was more than just went to air.  Finding Jessop allowed O'Farrell, Jessop to try to create an agreed chronology and conversation, plus some analysis leading to the 1000 knots estimate.  This eliminates the Sabre I suspect (even if they are only estimates, admittedly from a highly experienced pilot), but again it was not even considered by O'Farrell and others, simply because it didn't fit.  He and others, like most of Australia at the time were well aware of the advent of the Sabre. The timings, deployments and deliveries of the Sabres simply don't fit as an explanation, and the idea that 2 were involved makes it even more unlikely - risking a pet Wackett/Jones project would have been occupational suicide.
Also for a Sabre not to emerge when Tange gives O'Farrell the JIB files makes the Sabre explanation very unlikely.  At that juncture if in deed Sabres had been the answer all along I would not have expected Tange to insist that O'Farrell read the JIB files to refresh his knowledge. A Sabre explanation would not have been secret (certainly by 1973) I would judge.  Sure, political and practically touchy at back in 1954, but by 1973 it would have simply been grounds for Tange not to bother about assisting Hynek & O'Farrell.  Too many things work against a Sabre explanation, but like the analytical detail, such possibilities, surely would have been covered in a JOINT Intelligence Bureau investigation.  On top of all this the 1954 report specifically rule out RAAF aircraft.  If one was pedantic one could weakly argue that until they became operational at the RAAF bases, they might not technically be deemed "RAAF aircraft" - not a very compelling argument for Sabre's as an explanation all round, but if more compelling evidence comes up happy to see it.
So essentially on current information, I don't see the Sabre as an explanation - indeed even more unlikely with 2 objects (Sabres?) involved. The Sabre project was still in its infancy and it was aircraft pioneer Lawrence Wackett and Air Marshall George Jone's pet project, indeed it was Wackett's pivotal achievement - in his autobiography "Aircraft Pioneer" Lawrence Wackett wrote, "after thirty years of pioneering the aircraft industry in Australia, I had reached the climax of my ambition" - his "ambition" "to produce in Australia military aircraft which would be equal to or better than overseas contemporary aircraft."   Given this backdrop, it seems rather likely that no test pilot or RAAF pilot would risk his career doing risky "buzzing" of naval aircraft with Wackett's "ambition" - the Sabre jet in Australia.
The Sea Fury case seems to have been an important early driver in JIO's insertion into the secret UFO controversy.  The DSTO involvement that supplemented the JIO history confirm the important role that Harry Turner had.
In Keith's DSTO file review he highlighted:
Sydney researcher, Bill Chalker has described, in a number of references, that in 1969 there was a proposal generated by Harry Turner for a DOD rapid investigation team to investigate UAP. When interviewed by both Bill Chalker, and by the Disclosure Australia project, Turner confirmed that George Barlow was also to be involved in this project.
Thanks to the excellent, earlier work by Sydney based researcher Bill Chalker, and his interviews with Harry Turner, and others, we have long known about some of the material on this file, even though the file itself has only just been released.
However, what we have now, are public copies of official Australian government documents, which, confirm, and build upon, Bill's earlier work.