Photo: JOEY ROULETTE/REUTERS/Deutsche Welle
In the first hearing on “unidentified flying objects” in half a century, two senior US defense intelligence officials said Tuesday (05/18/2022) that the Pentagon is committed to determining the origins of what it calls ” unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAPs) – commonly referred to as unidentified flying objects (UFOs) – but acknowledged that many remain beyond the government’s ability to explain.
They also assured that an increasing number of unidentified objects have been reported in the sky in the last 20 years. “Since the early 2000s, we have seen an increasing number of unauthorized or unidentified objects,” said Scott Bray, deputy director of US Naval Intelligence.
400 cases of “unidentified aerial phenomena”
The official attributes this rise to “considerable efforts” by the US Army aimed at “de-stigmatizing the act of reporting such encounters,” as well as technological advances.
Bray said the number of UAPs officially cataloged by a recently formed Pentagon task force has risen to 400 cases.
At the hearing, both officials chose their words carefully in describing the task force’s work, including the question of possible extraterrestrial origin, which Bray said defense and intelligence analysts had not ruled out.
Bray did say that “we do not have any material, we have not detected any emanation, within the UAPs working group that suggests that it is something of non-terrestrial origin.”
In June 2021, United States intelligence had already stated in a report that there was no evidence of the existence of aliens in the skies, but recognized that dozens of phenomena observed by military pilots had no explanation. “We don’t make assumptions about what it is or isn’t,” Bray said.
The 2021 report, a nine-page “preliminary assessment” by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a Navy-led task force, said that 80% of the UAP cases it reviewed were recorded on multiple instruments.
Threats to national security
Both officials promised that the Pentagon would follow up on the evidence wherever it was found and made it clear that the primary interest is to deal with potential threats to national security.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Bray presented two videos of the UAPs. One of them showed flickering triangle-shaped objects in the sky, which were later determined to be visual artifacts from light passing through the night vision goggles. The other showed a glowing, spherical object passing through the cockpit window of a military plane, an observation Bray said remained unexplained.
Some phenomena could be explained by the presence of drones or birds that create confusion in the radar systems. Others may be the result of tests of military equipment or technology carried out by other powers, such as China or Russia, he said.
The 2021 report included some UAPs revealed in a previously released Pentagon video of enigmatic objects that displayed speed and maneuverability that exceeded known aviation technology and lacked visible means of propulsion or flight control surfaces.
Bray said those incidents, including one described by Navy pilots as resembling flying Tic Tac mints, are among the cases still categorized as “unsolved.”
“Inexplicable but they are real”
“Unidentified aerial phenomena are a potential national security threat and should be evaluated accordingly,” said Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, who was in charge of chairing the hearing panel, and who stressed the importance of taking it seriously. the UAPs.
“The UAPs have no explanation, it is true. But they are real,” Carson said, raising concerns that Pentagon officials have previously focused on “the easy fruit,” cases that are relatively easy to explain, while “avoiding the ones that can’t be explained.”
“Can we get some kind of assurance that your analysts will follow the facts as far as they lead and test all hypotheses?” Carson asked the other senior official in the audience, Ronald Moultrie, who oversees the latest UAP investigative team based at the Pentagon as the US deputy secretary of defense for intelligence and security.
“Absolutely,” Moultrie replied. “We are open to all hypotheses. We are open to any conclusions we can find.”
“We want to know what’s out there as much as you want to know what’s out there,” Moultrie said, acknowledging that he grew up a science fiction enthusiast.
The Navy task force that was involved in last year’s report was replaced in November by a Pentagon unit called the Airborne Object Identification and Management Group.