U.S. intelligence officials told members of Congress Tuesday that sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) continue to be “frequent” and that roughly 400 detections have now been reported by American service members — a nearly threefold increase since just last year.
For the first time in more than 50 years, top government officials testified publicly about UFOs — or unidentified aerial phenomenons (UAPs), as the military refers to them.
Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie and Deputy Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray sought to shed light before a House Intelligence Committee subpanel on their work to better identify the airborne objects that no one has yet been able to explain.
While they did not rule out the possibility of extraterrestrial life, their main concern is combatting potential new technology from U.S. adversaries.
That means working to find plausible explanations for UAPs and potentially withholding information from the public.
“We recognize that that can be unsatisfying or insufficient in the eyes of many. This is a popular topic in our nation with various theories as to what these objects may be and where they originate,” Mr. Bray said. “By nature, we are all curious and we seek to understand the unknown. And as a lifelong intelligence professional, I’m impatient. I want immediate explanations for this as much as anyone else.”
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He said that while there has been “no direct contact” between UAPs and U.S. aircraft, there have been 11 recorded “near misses.” The U.S. has never fired on or been fired upon by a UAP, no wreckage from such sightings has been “consistent with extraterrestrial origin” and there have been no attempts to communicate with UAPs because they appeared to be “unmanned,” Mr. Bray continued.
The Pentagon officials responded to some of lawmakers’ questions by saying that answers were best left for a classified briefing that was to follow the public portion, such as whether encounters with UAPs have altered the development of offensive or defensive military capabilities.
Lawmakers on the Intelligence panel from both parties warned that UAPs pose serious “national security threats” and must be investigated as such.
The Defense officials concurred. They said one of their main priorities has been to destigmatize reporting UAP sightings out of fear of ridicule or judgment, and they see success in the increase of sighting reports from 144 documented in a report last year to this year’s reported 400.
“To be frank, one of Congress’ concerns is that the executive branch — in administrations under both parties — has been sweeping concerns about UAPs under the rug by focusing on events that can be explained and avoiding events that cannot be explained,” Rep. André Carson, Indiana Democrat, said.
The officials said that resolved cases usually fall within one of five categories: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomenon, U.S. government or industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems or the catch-all designation of “other.”
In an effort to solve some of the outstanding mysteries, Mr. Moultrie announced that the Pentagon will establish an office with a mission “to facilitate the identification of previously unknown or unidentified airborne objects in a methodical, logical and standardized manner.”