Since the release of a Pentagon report on an unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP) last year, the number of words by Navy pilots of mysterious, strange aircraft sightings has grown to about 400, top Pentagon officials revealed during the first public hearing on UAP in nearly 50 years.
The hearing took place Tuesday, and the two officials testified before a House subcommittee about work currently being done to investigate U.S. military sightings of unidentifiable flying objects. More commonly referred to as UFOs, UAPs usually involve a flying object that maneuvers in ways that seemingly defy the laws of physics we know. As a result, sightings of these aircraft have largely been categorized as alien conspiracy or science fiction. However, the government has vowed to bring the conversation around UAPs to light after several videos shot by Navy pilots leaked online.
“Commission channel. Our goal is to remove the stigma by involving our operators and mission personnel in a standardized data collection process,” said Defense Secretary for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie during the hearing broadcast life on YouTube. “We believe that making UAP reporting a mission will be necessary to the effort’s success.”
The Department of Defense has established an office that oversees the collection and processing of the reports of UAP sightings. The chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism, and Counterproliferation (the subcommittee that organizes the hearing), Andre Carson, said pilots often avoided reporting these incidents or were ridiculed when they did. “Today we know better,” Carson said at the hearing. “UAPs are inexplicable, it is true, but they are real. They must be investigated, and the many their many threatstigated.”
The Pentagon report on UAPs was released in June 2021 due to the Intelligence Authorization Act, which called for removing unclassified information from all sources on UAPs following leaked videos captured by U.S. Navy pilots. The tapes started circulating online before the U.S. Department of Defense officially published three unrated videos on its website in April 2020.
Prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Pentagon’s UAP task force, the report listed a total of 144 incidents that occurred between 2004 and 2021. Of the 144, only one incident was identified as airborne debris (a “large, deflating balloon”), while the remaining 143 sightings remained unexplained. UAPs can fall into one of five categories, according to the report. The categories are clutter in the sky (balloons, birds, and other flying things of the species), natural atmospheric phenomena, U.S. industry development programs, hostile foreign systems (with China and Russia as possible sources), and finally, an “other” category for an inexplicable phenomenon.
While most of the report was inconclusive, it seemingly encouraged more pilots and military personnel to come forward with their accounts of UAP sightings. “Since the publication of that preliminary report, the UAP Task Force’s database has now grown to about 400 reports,” Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray said at the hearing. “The stigma has been reduced.”
The task force also resolved one of those incidents involving a video of triangular objects floating off the west coast, seen through night vision goggles. Bray told the subcommittee that these objects were unmanned aerial systems that only appeared triangular because the light fell through the night vision goggles before an SLR camera captured the video.
On the other hand, Bray showed the subcommittee another video of a spherical object whizzing rapidly past the cockpit of an airplane (so fast that Bray had to rewind and pause the footage several times for the members of the hearing to see). “I have no explanation for this particular object,” he said.
Bray blamed “a limited amount of high-quality data and reporting” for hindering their ability to identify these objects. But he hopes that will change as the UAP task force receives more reports and calls in a group of experts in physics, optics, meteorology, and other fields to categorize the UAPs. However, the task force does not receive any reports from citizens.
“Our main goal was to move UAP efforts from an anecdotal or narrative approach to a rigorous science and technology-focused study,” Bray said at the hearing. “The message is now clear; if you see something, you should report it.”
Editor’s Note: The release dates in this article are based in the U.S. but will be updated with local Australian dates as we learn more.