GIMBAL video – a dive into the viable explanations

This is the first of a series of posts reviewing a number of high profile, officially documented cases/events that have occurred or otherwise become part of the public knowledge in the last 5 years.

This is the first of a multi-part Explanations series, which will take into account the verifiable facts surrounding the chosen event, and implement the Four Viable Explanations framework in order to reduce the plausible explanations to a more manageable number.

To be clear – at this point in time it is not publicly known which (combination) of the Four Viable Explanations best describes the reality of the phenomenon. Furthermore, the point of this post is not to definitively prove any one explanation over another, instead it is to establish a common framework of analysis and pose a set of questions that might enable a more nuanced and structured discourse going forward.

The subject of this post is the Gimbal video:


"GIMBAL" video, Jan 2015


  • During 2014–2015, fighter pilots associated with the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group were operating off the East Coast of the United States when they picked up 'mysterious radar tracks'.
  • Pilots initially believed these hits could be errors connected to a recent upgrade of their radar systems, until some of the pilots made visual contact with the objects. By 2015, such incidents were regular occurrences.
  • The Gimbal video represents a snippet of one such occurrence. According to Lt. Graves, a pilot familiar with the matter, Gimbal is part of a longer, higher resolution video that includes a fleet of other unidentified objects as well (Link for more). This longer video has not been released or officially confirmed to exist.
  • The Gimbal video was widely circulated after the NYT reported on it in 2017
  • In September 2019, the U.S. Navy confirms the authenticity of the Gimbal video (amongst others)
  • In September 2019, Susan Gough, a Pentagon spokeswoman, also confirmed that the released videos were made by naval aviators, adding that they are "part of a larger issue of an increased number of training range incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena in recent years"
  • In april 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense officially declassifies and releases 3 videos (including Gimbal), reaffirming their authenticity
  • As of September 2023, there is no official publicly known identification of the object as recorded in the Gimbal video. The DoD's All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office has the video listed on their website as "unidentified".

Framework Analysis:

Let's simply look through each lens of the 4 viable explanations framework, with minimal nuance, to get an understanding of what each basic claim would look like on its own. In so doing, I hope to illuminate a set of questions that we (as relatively uninformed armchair analysts) can use to better frame the discussions going forward.

The four viable explanations (link for more information). This set of explanations is non-mutually exclusive, but collectively exhaustive.

Systematic Error:

  1. For this explanation, one might argue that the Gimbal video could be a result of sensor malfunctions or optical illusions
  2. Otherwise, proponents could also claim that what is seen in the video is simply a previously unknown natural phenomena and there is no need to invoke any extraordinary explanations. In this case, the error would be on the part of the human operators/analysts tasked with decoding the video after the fact.

Proponents of this explanation should ask themselves the following:

  • Did both the radar systems and trained observers fail at the same time? In other words – were both technical and human perceptions tricked into believing physical objects were in the air at the time of the encounter?
  • Did multiple trained observers and analysts fail to correctly interpret the system errors as such during and after the fact? Or did they fail to interpret the readings as some sort of previously unknown natural phenomena?
  • Can we gain access to the radar data that was recorded, that apparently indicates a fleet of similar objects that were observed for days/weeks at a time?
  • Can we gain access to the full, higher-resolution video that has been alluded to? Does this video even exist?
  • The DoD – with all its analytical resources – has come out and claimed this object is still unidentified as of 2023. Can we see a greater extent of the data sets and analysis that led to this conclusion? Surely they would have considered the full scope of systematic errors (both technical, human, natural phenomena-related)?

Systematic Deception:

  1. If the Gimbal video were seen through the lens of systematic deception, some might argue that it could be part of a coordinated effort to deceive the public. This could involve creating UAP sightings to generate some mix of e.g. fear or confusion.
  2. Proponents of this explanation might suggest that the video was released intentionally by government agencies as part of a disinformation campaign to manipulate adversarial perceptions about US capabilities.

Proponents of this explanation should ask themselves the following:

  • What are the strategic objectives that are fulfilled by convincing the broader public (including your adversaries) that UAP are real and unexplained?
  • Are all of the videos that have been released/confirmed by the DoD representative of systematic deception, or just the Gimbal video?
  • Has the systematic deception been going on for multiple decades, or are the reports of UAP from the past completely unrelated to this current strategy?

Real Human Secret Technology:

  1. In the context of the possibility that U.S. military or intelligence agencies possess advanced secret technology, some might speculate that the Gimbal video could be showcasing a classified aircraft or drone technology
  2. Proponents of this explanation could argue that the government intentionally released the video to gauge public reactions without revealing too much about the true nature of the technology
  3. Proponents of this explanation must also argue for the case of Systematic Deception, as all official statements continue to claim the phenomena in the Gimbal video is unidentified.

Proponents of this explanation should ask themselves the following:

  • What are the strategic objectives that are fulfilled by publicising advanced weapons programs in such vague terms?
  • Are there any historical corollaries we can draw on that would support this conclusion?
  • Is it common to test advanced weapons programs in this way – i.e. in active military training zones, with no explanation proffered to the pilots involved before/during/after the exercises?
  • Could these events plausibly represent a human adversary (e.g. China) making repeated incursions into American military zones? What would be the strategic objectives that are fulfilled by publicising these, ostensibly embarrassing, incursions to the broader public?

Real Non-Human Technology:

  1. From the perspective of non-human technology, proponents might interpret the Gimbal video as evidence technologies of unknown or non-human origin.
  2. Those who advocate for this explanation could see the video as capturing technology that does not originate from known human sources, potentially indicating the presence of a non-human intelligence.

Proponents of this explanation should ask themselves the following:

  • Are there any specific features or characteristics of the objects that suggest they are of exotic origin?
  • Can any known human-made technologies account for the observed capabilities and behaviors?
  • Is there additional data that could be made public that would allow us to better answer these questions?
  • If there is such data – but it cannot be made public – has this data been used to establish the official designation of 'unidentified'?
  • Have there been any efforts made to capture additional data, such as radar readings, spectrographic analysis, or other scientific measurements, to better understand the phenomena in the Gimbal video?
  • Are similar incidents still occurring to this day?

Closing remarks

The Gimbal video remains an enigma within the broader landscape of unidentified aerial phenomena, largely due to a lack of additional data with which to better parse what's happening. This is all the more frustrating since sources familiar to the incident have indicated such data does, in fact, exist.

As we have explored, several viable explanations can be mapped onto the video, each bringing its own set of questions and complexities with it. Importantly, these explanations are not necessarily mutually exclusive; multiple factors could be at play simultaneously, only further complicating our understanding of the events captured in the video. In fact, I would imagine the reality of the situation pretty much requires some combination of the four explanations. The set of questions I introduced for each explanation are really only the starting point to help us figure out which ones we believe to be more likely candidates.

Systematic errors and misinterpretations are inherent risks when dealing with complex sensor systems and human perception during high intensity activities. These explanations cannot be dismissed outright, especially given the complexity of military technology and the challenges of identifying unfamiliar phenomena.

Systematic deception, while less straightforward, must also be considered. In a world where information warfare is increasingly prevalent, understanding the potential motivations and strategies behind releasing such videos is essential to determining how much of our understanding is being shaped by a concerted disinformation campaign.

The notion of advanced secret technology remains a valid perspective, with governments often keeping classified projects under wraps for decades. I would assume it's not uncommon for militaries to test cutting-edge equipment in controlled environments, sometimes leading to unexpected encounters, although the follow-up messaging has been nothing short of bizarre no matter how you slice it...

Finally, the concept of non-human technology obviously introduces a host of profound questions about the nature of our universe and the potential existence of non-human intelligence. While this explanation may seem more speculative, it is one we cannot dismiss out of hand, given the ongoing (serious & scientific) search for life beyond Earth and the vastness of the cosmos. As has been touched on by Christopher Mellon – in just the last 5 years, we have suddenly seen Congress, DoD, and NASA become fully and publicly engaged with the UAP topic. Perhaps we can interpret this as an indication of where the discourse is headed.

It is essential that we maintain an open and critical mind when exploring these possibilities. The Gimbal video serves as a reminder that there is still so much we simply do not understand about the world around us. By encouraging rigorous scientific inquiry and responsible investigation – as well as demanding the release of more and better high quality data surrounding these types of incidents – we can hope to shed light on these mysteries and continue to expand our knowledge of the universe, one blurry enigma at a time.

The Disclosure Diaries relies on word-of-mouth to reach new audiences.

If you know anyone eager to learn about Disclosure in a serious way with 0% tolerance for BS, don't hesitate to share this post or refer them to the newsletter with this link!

Subscribe to Disclosure Diaries

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.