1976 Tehran UFO Incident

September 1976
5-minute listen
Introduced as a military jet in 1961, this jet was piloted by both eyewitness pilots from the Imperial Iranian Air Force in the 1976 Tehran UFO sighting.
Introduced as a military jet in 1961, this jet was piloted by both eyewitness pilots from the Imperial Iranian Air Force in the 1976 Tehran UFO sighting.

Multiple Iranian military and civilian personnel witnessed a group of fast-moving, bright objects in the sky above Tehran. The objects appeared to be able to disable the communications and instrument controls on F-42 military jets, and performed maneuvers that were beyond the capabilities of known human aircraft.

At approximately 11:00pm on September 18, 1976, a large bright object appeared in the sky above Tehran at low altitude, circling over the city. The Iranian Air Force was alerted, and an F-4 Phantom II jet was scrambled and dispatched to investigate the object.

Piloted by Lieutenant Yadi Nazeri and backseat weapons officer in the Imperial Iranian Air Force, the jet approached the object and attempted to chase it. As they got closer to it, their radio communications and other instruments stopped working. They then increased their distance from the object and the plane's instrumentation resumed working normally.

At about 1:30am Imperial Iranian Air Force squadron commander Parviz Jafari, along with his back seat equipment operator Jalal Damirian, took off in another F-4 Phantom II with the intent of investigating the bright object.

Jafari described the object as "flashing with intense red, green, orange and blue lights. So bright that I was not able to see its body. The lights formed a diamond shape. Just brilliant lights. No solid structure could be seen through or around them. The sequence of flashes was extremely fast, like a strobe light. Maybe the lights were only one part of a bigger object which we couldn't see. There was no way to know."[1]

Jafari and Damirian performed various maneuvers to observe and approach the object, and found that it would jump suddenly across great distances in a sub-second time period. At one point as they approached it, their weapons and radio communications stopped functioning, and then the object moved away from them so fast that appeared to move in an instant.

At this point, Jafari reported that a round object emerged from the main object and started moving towards his fighter jet at a high rate of speed. He considered using an AIM-9 heat-seeking missile, but his weapons and comms systems were again disabled. The small object then rapidly accelerated away, and rejoined the main bright object.

At this point another object approached and started circling the jet, and again the comms and weapons systems stopped functioning. As the object moved away, the systems came back online.

Jafari and Damirian were ordered to return to their Air Force base. On the way back to the base and during descent, they were approached by another object, dead ahead. Jafari described it as a "thin rectangle with a light at each end and one in the middle."[1]

Jafari then observed another bright object emerge from the main UFO, descend towards the ground, slow down, and appear to land. He claimed that he could see it from 15 miles away, and that it illuminated the immediate area with a bright light.

Headquarters then sent the pilots new orders: to investigate the object that appeared to be on the ground. Once the pilots got within four or five miles of it, their instruments stopped working. At this point they moved away and their instruments resumed working, like on the previous approaches. Jafari claimed that the object on the ground emitted an "emergency squawk," like an emergency beacon.

Suddenly the main UFO disappeared.

Jafari and Damirian finally returned to base, confused about what they had just witnessed. The following morning they debriefed the Imperial Iranian Air Force on their experience. Present at the meeting were Colonel Olin Mooy and Colonel Frank McKenzie, American Air Force Officers, who were posted in Tehran at the time. Mooy took notes and told Jafari "you're lucky you couldn't fire"[1] when told that Jafari's weapons capabilities had been disabled at different points during the encounter. That same day, Jafari and Damirian flew in a helicopter to the area where the bright light descended towards the ground. They found no evidence of the object, and were told by local residents that they had heard a loud noise and saw a bright light the previous night.

In Leslie Kean's book "UFOs - Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record", Jafari stated, "To this day, I don't know what I saw. But for sure, it was not an aircraft. It was not a flying object that human beings on Earth can make. It moved way too fast. Imagine, I was looking at it about 70 miles out, and it jumped all of a sudden 10º to my right. This 10º represented about 6.7 miles per moment, and I don't say per second, because it was much less than a second."[1]

UFO skeptics, including Philip Klass, have hypothesized that the pilots witnessed the planet Jupiter or meteors descending through the atmosphere. They have also stated that the communications and equipment malfunctions could be attributed to failing equipment.


Kean, Leslie. 2010. UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record. New York, Harmony Books.
Department of Defense: "Iran Reported UFO Sighting"
Bruce Maccabee: "Iranian Jet Case"

Official Explanation

Jupiter and equipment failure.

Counter Argument

Pilot chased a UFO.


Many credible eyewitnesses. Radar return. Comms and weapons systems stopped functioning.

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