CODEX Entry 7112: Peru Shooting Incident 1980
On a clear morning, 11th April 1980, 7:15 am, eighteen hundred men at the La Joya airbase in Arequipa region, Peru, were at morning roll call and exercises. La Joya was the most advanced military base in Peru, with Sukhoi 22 fighter jets, and other advanced military equipment. Peru was in a tense stand-off with Chile at the time. Everyone on the parade ground saw a stationary object that looked like a balloon, 5 km away at 600 m altitude. The object did not respond to contact on the radio. Lieutenant Oscar Santa Maria Huertas was ordered by Commander FAP Carlos Vasquez Zegarra to shoot down the balloon, as it was in restricted airspace. Lt. Huertas started his attack run from 2500m and shot a burst of sixty-four 30mm shells, at a distance of 700m to 400m from the object. While a few missed many clearly went straight into the balloon, and were absorbed by it. The pilot expected the balloon to be torn open, but instead it rapidly moved away from the base. Lt. Huertas activated his afterburners and chased the object, climbing at 950km/h. The balloon remained exactly 500 m in front of him. Over the city of Camana, 84 km away Lt. Huertas was now at 11,000m altitude. Here it halted suddenly, forcing Lt. Huertas to make an evasive manoeuvre. He manouvered into position to open fire on three further occasions. Each time the object moved upwards suddenly as he came into range. They were now at 14,000 m. Lt. Huertas was travelling at 1,850km/hr trying to climb above the object, but it remained parallel with him. At 19,200m the object suddenly stopped again, allowing Lt. Huertas to come as close as 100 m from the object. Sukhoi 22s used laser beams for tracking, rather than radar. The object was 10m in diameter, had no windows, no exhaust, no visible engine, no wings, and no antenna.
Lt. Huertas, short on fuel, glided down after the 22-minute dog fight. The object was visible to everyone at the base for a further 2 hours.
While this object did not appear on the station’s radar, and only one aircraft engaged the object, this incident is included because the object was visible for an extended period to over one thousand military personnel, and was recorded on the Sukhoi 22 laser tracking system. It was noted however that the Sukhoi 22 guns were mechanical rather than electrical, and this may explain why the guns could not be jammed, as has been the case in other incidents when pilots have attempted to engage weapons. It therefore remains the only recorded example of a pilot shooting at a UFO.