LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Jay Stratton is one of the United States government’s highest-ranking and most experienced UFO hunters. During his long career working with various intelligence agencies, Stratton might have seen more of the Pentagon’s hidden UFO files than anyone. He is the only person in the federal government to have worked directly on all three of the most recent UFO programs, including one based in Las Vegas.
When a mysterious unidentified flying object dubbed the “tic tac” alerted U.S. Navy aviators and sensors off the coast of San Diego in 2004, the federal government dropped the incident instead of investigating it. The first in-depth probe into the incident occurred five years later under the auspices of a then-secretive program called AAWSAP, or the Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Application Program, created by the defense intelligence agency with “black budget funding” spearheaded by Sen. Harry Reid.
The “tic tac” was the first UFO incident tackled by AAWSAP and its contractor, Las Vegas aerospace pioneer Robert Bigelow. The U.S. released the report in 2018, and Stratton is the man who wrote it.
Stratton said his work into the incidents was just that, rather than a passion project.
“I didn’t really have a passion growing up,” said Stratton. “I didn’t have all the books, I didn’t watch all the TV shows, I stepped into a job at the Defense Intelligence Agency where some things came across the desk.”
From 2008 until 2021, nearly everything related to UFO activity came across Jay Stratton’s desk. He was the individual who decided to abandon the acronym UFO in favor of UAP or unidentified aerial phenomena.
Stratton worked at the highest levels of Naval Intelligence, which loaned him to the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he excelled at reverse engineering. He and his colleague Dr. James Lacatski, a rocket scientist, saw reports of the unknown craft. Stratton assumed that a central location was analyzing those reports.
“As we tried to find that office, we found nothing,” said Stratton.
They set out to create an office that would fit that bill. Dr. Lacatski was reading about a UFO hotspot named “Skinwalker Ranch.” After a visit to the property, Dr. Lacatski pitched the creation of a formal investigation into the location. Reid agreed to fund it, and Bigelow landed the contract. Stratton consulted with the AAWSAP program and later its successor, AATIP, or the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
In 2017, then head of AATIP Luis Elizondo resigned and revealed the program’s existence to the New York Times. Stratton’s boss asked him to come back and cobble together a new program. Congress eventually formalized that effort under a new name, the UAP Task Force.
One of Stratton’s projects was the creation of a comprehensive but classified briefing that included video of UAP and photos collected by the military. Most of those images remain unreleased. Some were leaked, including pictures of objects encountered on the East coast and buzzing Navy ships on the West coast.
Stratton scoffed at debunkers who explained away the objects as flares, drones or birds.
“It’s frustrating because you know the rest of the story and you can’t tell the rest of the story,” said Stratton.
In 2021 Stratton left the UAP Task Force, but only after his work formed the basis of a stunning Congressional report. Of 144 incidents the task force investigated, 143 were considered unidentified.
Stratton and chief scientist Dr. Travis Taylor now work for Radiance Technologies, a defense contractor with offices in 17 states, including Nevada. When the two appeared in the audience of an Alabama UAP conference in the summer of 2022, UFO circles inquired about what Radience Technologies might be up to. Stratton admits that there are more questions than answers.