Recently re-watched Roland Emmrich's movie Independence Day. It got me to thinking about the power systems the Aliens use. According to the statement made by Dr. Okun about the recovered ship in Roswell:

OKUN (cont'd) See, we can't duplicate their type of power so we've never been able to experiment. But since these guys started showing up, all the gizmos inside turned on. The last twenty four hours have been really exciting!

To me this means that there is a likelihood that their power is broadcast or transmitted in someway. Has anything ever been definitively stated in this regard?

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    That quote seems to make it pretty clear, no? Feb 10, 2015 at 14:22
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    No, it doesn't, it still doesn't mean that the ships are not potentially powered independently with a control signal being supplied by the mother ship. Kind of like a security switch so your enemy can't use your tech against you. Which obviously failed in this case. I just don't remember any mention of any other type of emissions from the mother ships other than radio signals. I would think massive EM radiation (minus radio) would be detected on earth to some degree. Feb 10, 2015 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


In the official Novelisation by Dean Devlin, it's explicitly confirmed that the mothership is somehow providing remote (wireless) power to the slaved ships, including the fighters and city-ships.

“If we can plant the virus in the mother ship, it would then be sent down into the city destroyers and the attack ships like this one.

Okun told us that this ship’s power was coming directly from the mother ship, so that must be true of the large ships, as well.”

Once they've successfully destroyed the mothership, the "stingrays" simply drop to the ground.

They’d stayed in the air dogfighting with the last remaining attackers until the gray stingrays had started losing power and falling out of the sky. Apparently, they had only limited reserves of onboard energy.

This also explains why the ship in New Mexico was found in such pristine condition:

Like hundreds of flights before and after it, the ship had conducted several hours of research and observation. It was only moments away from completing its mission when the parent ship was suddenly threatened with discovery and bolted away.

The scout ship had wandered further than it should have and now lay behind the curve of the earth, preventing the energy flowing from the parent craft from reaching its engines.

  • That is the definitive answer! Thank you @Richard. I liked Okun, specifically because Brent Spiner played him brilliantly. I read that Dean Devlin wants to include him in the sequel. He stated that Okun wasn't killed, just comatose after the alien wreaked havoc in the lab. Feb 10, 2015 at 15:28
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    He's in the sidequel/midquel novel. There's also a bunch of stuff about their search for a power source they can use to power the leftover alien tech (electromagnetic, low wattage, incredibly high voltage).
    – Valorum
    Feb 10, 2015 at 15:34
  • @Richard - did you mean the prequel novel? Feb 10, 2015 at 17:01
  • @DVK - The sequel novel (#2) was a prequel. The follow-up novel to that (#3) was set at the same time.
    – Valorum
    Feb 10, 2015 at 17:06
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    @dvk - I spotted that but was too polite to say anything.
    – Valorum
    Feb 10, 2015 at 19:42

the power source was some type of controlled matter anti matter reaction.. probably the primary weapon was of the same origin. anti proton beam concentrated in a type of laser separating the coherent anti proton beam from normal matter.. a sort of envelope type force field . thats probably why you see the laser first then followed by the anti proton matter stream.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Are you claiming that each individual fighter is powered this way? The question was if power was beamed to the fighters, not how the mothership generated power.
    – DavidW
    Jul 3, 2022 at 3:48

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