The Tehran UFO Jet Chase Incident

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
May 17, 2018
Last Updated
October 11, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

Whenever there is radar confirmation to back up a UFO sighting it further strengthens the incident in terms of authenticity and credibility. This was very much the case with the 1991 Belgian Wave and the Kaikoura Lights incident of 1978, for example. Perhaps one of the most intriguing of such cases played out over the skies of the Iranian capital, Tehran, in the late summer of 1976. Not only were there visual sightings from the ground, and military radar evidence, but several military jet pilots actively engaged the mysterious objects. What’s more, UFO sightings had increased in line with the expansion of the Iranian Air Force since the 1960s and would reach a peak of sorts with the incidents of 1976.

A depiction of the Tehran UFO Chase

A depiction of the Tehran UFO Chase

Although the overthrowing of the Shah during the Islamic Revolution meant that such incidents didn’t filter through to the rest of the world as they once had, insiders and intelligence agents still managed to note further encounters. During the US hostage situation of 1979-1980, there were multiple reports of strange objects and lights above the US Embassy. Furthermore, in the run-up to the Iran-Iraq War of 1980 came a wave of sightings by multiple people. Iranian oil rig workers would regularly report UFOs throughout the 1980s, most often just prior to attacks from US Navy strikes during the “Tanker War”.

In both Gulf Wars, Iranian intelligence officers would report “UFO sightings” above what would become key targets of Coalition airstrikes. While it would appear sightings over Iran were somewhat subdued during the last decade of the twentieth century, when the Iranian authorities relaunched nuclear programs in the early 2000s, they appeared to be on the rise again.

Before we look back at the infamous 1976 incident, check out the short video below. It is just one of many UFO sighting from recent times over Tehran.

Lights Over Tehran!

Just after half-past-midnight on 19th September 1976, [1] reports would begin to reach the Shahrokhi Air Force Base from concerned citizens regarding strange lights over the city of Tehran. Each would report a “brilliant bright light” moving about above them. One report would state it was “like a helicopter with a searchlight!”

Sightings were fed up the chain of command, eventually reaching the deputy commander of operations, General Yousefi. He was initially unconcerned and would state that the sightings were “stars”. However, he would still communicate with the Mehrabad International Airport control tower. They had also noted unusual activity. In light of this, Yousefi would take a look for himself. He was now a little less sure that the incident was down to the vivid imaginations of the general public. Upon doing so, he could clearly see an object moving of its own accord and under obvious intelligent control. And furthermore, it was “much larger and brighter” than a star.

He would authorize the scrambling of an F-4 Phantom II Jet fighter. By 1:30 am, Captain Mohammad Reza Azizkhani was speeding through the night in the F-4, on his way to the skies over Tehran. The pilot was within seventy miles of the location within a minute. Already, however, he could clearly see the object in front of him, such was the brilliance of the light. He continued towards it, intent on making the “interception”.

However, when he was twenty-five miles away, all the jet’s communications, guidance, and defense instruments failed. Azizkhani made the decision to retreat and return to base in light of this. Almost as soon as he began to do so, all of his systems came back on as normal.

Second F-4 Fighter Jet Scrambled

Following Azizhkani’s forced return, Yousefi gave orders to scramble another fighter jet. This time two pilots, Lieutenants Parviz Jafari and Jalal Damirian, would take their F-4 into the night sky at 1:40 am. Traveling through the air at over 170 miles per hour, the object (which the plane’s radar would suggest was the size of a Boeing 707 plane) was soon within their sight. When they got to within thirty miles of it, however, it began to move. As both the F-4 and the UFO moved through the sky, the cushion separating them both was maintained at all times.

It appeared there was a definite sequence to the flashing lights, which changed from blue to green, to red, and then to orange. However, the sequence was so rapid that to the human eye, all of the colors were visible at the same time.

Without warning, a second object suddenly detached from the main unknown craft and headed in the jet’s direction. Jafari would instinctively press to launch one of the sidewinder missiles. As he did so, however, he realized everything was offline. Even his ejector seat failed. He managed to turn his jet away from the object, which then retreated back to the main craft. At the same time, the jet’s instruments sparked back into life.

As they maintained their course, the two pilots witnessed another secondary object leave the main craft. [2] It was descending at great speed, leading the pilots to suspect it was a missile. Just as each was braced to witness the explosive impact below, the craft came to a sudden but gentle rest. It hovered on or just above the ground. According to the two pilots, a two-mile radius was illuminated by the glow of the craft.

A depiction of a UFO over Tehran

A depiction of a UFO over Tehran

Corroborating Witness Statements

Incidentally, a witness on the ground would corroborate the account of Jafari and Damirian. The pilots took their plane over the landing site – close to the Rey Oil Refinery on the outskirts of Iran – noting each time they passed overhead they experienced “interference” with communications. They would eventually bring their plane to land at Mehrabad Airport.

As they approached the landing strip, a cylinder-shaped craft with lights on each end and a flashing light in the middle came into view. It would continue overhead, eventually disappearing as the F-4 came to a stop on the runway. It would cause a similar interference with the plane’s navigation equipment as the other strange objects had. Furthermore, both pilots were struggling to readjust their vision after staring into the intensely bright lights of the other-worldly vehicles.

A civilian aircraft, also landing at Mehrabad, would report similar sightings to the two military pilots. As well as the bright light beneath them and the glowing radius it sent out, when they passed overhead their communications went temporarily offline also.

Once daylight had taken hold of the city, a search team would fly to the suspected landing site of the detached craft. Although they could find no evidence of the craft having landed, they did pick up a “noticeable beeping” in the vicinity.

Further Sightings Over Iran

A little over eighteen months later in April 1978 came another sighting near the capital. A private pilot along with his co-pilot witnessed a “glittering object” while flying from Ahvaz to Tehran. He managed to obtain photographs of the object in question, but at the time of the report, the civil aviation authorities were in possession of them, deciding their “classification”. Perhaps even more startling was the information volunteered by Mehrabad Airport. According to their data, the object in question was “over twenty times the size of a jumbo jet!”

Of course, within the eighteen-month period that followed, the Iranian uprising and the abdication of the Shah would lead Iran to a more insular position on the world stage. Part of that would mean limited access to such other-worldly events as the sightings over Iran.

On 16th July 1978, according to a report in the 18th July edition of the ‘Tehran Journal’, multiple witnesses in the northern part of the city would report an object “suddenly emerge” in the sky which then hovered silently. It began to move slowly towards the south-west, glowing gently as it did so. Like the 1976 incident, radar operators at Mehrabad Airport would confirm the sighting on their instruments. Furthermore, an airborne Lufthansa plane also registered the anomaly on their radar equipment.

The video below features extensive interviews and analysis of this period in UFO history.

“Dogfights” With UFOs Around Key Facilities

The sightings over Iran have surely continued since. Even if information about them is limited to those of us in the West (although perhaps less so now in the age of the Internet).

In 2014, ‘Air Forces Monthly’ managed to secure an Iranian report concerning UFO activities over several of their “strategic facilities” in 2004 and 2005. [3] Furthermore, the report would speak of “dogfights” between their military fighter jets and these unknown objects. Reports state pilots of F-4E Phantom IIs and F-14A Tomcat jets came up against “luminescent UFOs” over Khondab and Bushehr.

One particular incident on 28th October 2004 stands out. A “glowing UFO” was seen hovering over the heavy water reactor near the Arank facility in Khondab. The report would state that the object appeared to be “collecting data from the reactor!” When military aircraft would approach the object in question, it would disappear, only to reappear within seconds several miles away. This went on for several minutes.

Much like reports from military pilots and witnesses the world over, the pilots involved in the incident would state that based on the maneuvers of the vehicle and the rapid speeds with which it performed them, the vehicle was nothing like any man-made object they had ever seen.

Perhaps it is worth noting the results of a 2009 study by the Iranian Air Force Strategic Research and Studies. They would suggest that UFOs were, in fact, man-made. Furthermore, the vast majority of sightings of the last two decades (since 1989) appeared to be near to sites connected to Iran’s nuclear programs and ballistic missile sites. Remember, Iranian intelligence suggested key Coalition targets in the two gulf wars often experienced UFO sightings before their destruction.

President Rouhani’s Admission Of UFO Sighting

In the summer of 2017, Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, would speak publicly of a UFO encounter [4] he had experienced when a young boy in the mid-1950s. While it was only his personal account and not a release of classified information, it was still an admission not often seen from someone in such a lofty political position. And more to the point, in Rouhani’s case, he is very much an academic, a lawyer, and of sound mind. Whether there is anything to be derived from his timing to share this account when he did is up for debate. It should, however, certainly be treated as an authentic incident.

He would state that when he was around seven or eight years of age, in his home village of Sorkheh in the Semnan Province, he would see a “cuboid-shaped” object, around three meters on each side, descend from above. It had a fantastic shining glow to it, and it simply hovered over his local mosque.

He would claim it reminded him of a “howdah” – the square baskets used on the backs of elephants. He would also claim to see a figure inside the craft. Before he could focus on any details, however, the square object shot directly upwards and vanished into the sky. It would descend again over another building, and then once again shoot upwards and disappear from sight. He remains steadfast in his account, stating that it was neither a dream or a hallucination. He would further state he considered the event to be a “special moment” in his life.

You can check out the video below and watch the interview in question.

Iranian Military Attacks UFO From The Ground?

Several months previously, in January 2017, footage and reports began to circulate online of the Iranian military “firing upon a UFO” [5] from attack positions on the ground in Tehran. According to the main witness, the incident occurred on the 17th January at around 5:00 pm. Thousands of people saw events unfold as they looked on from Enghelab Square in the capital city. As well as the bizarre objects (between six and ten in total), military jets would also make several passes overhead. These jets would continue to patrol the skies for several minutes, seemingly searching for the objects but to no avail.

The authorities would later state that the object was simply an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – essentially, a drone. However, the witness would dismiss this assertion in his report to the Iranian MUFON team. He would state that Iranian soldiers positioned themselves on the top of tall buildings in attack formations. The fact this was done in full view of the public showed that it was a serious exercise. As for the objects being UAVs, the witness disagreed. He would state in his report, “…they don’t start to shoot that heavily at the center of Tehran like it’s a war (for UAVs)!”

There were several similar sightings around the same time as this one. While some were suspected to be hoaxes, it appears this particular sighting looks to be more genuine. Of course, like all such reports, make of it what you will.

You can check out the footage below.


1 On this day in history – September 19th, 1976, WDAM7
2 Joint Chiefs of Staff report concerning the sighting of a UFO in Iran on 19 September 1976, National Security Agency
3 Iran UFO Reports Revealed, Key Aero, December 18th, 2017
4 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Reveals His UFO Encounter, Paul Seaburn, Mysterious Universe, June 3rd, 2017
5 SHOCK CLAIM: Iranian Airforce gunners filmed firing at UFOs before government ‘cover up’, Jon Austin, The Express, January 25th, 2017

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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