Two high-ranking military officials assigned to investigate the sightings stated that most can eventually be identified. However, they acknowledged that there have been a number of events that remain unexplainable. The military’s recorded sightings include 11 instances of close encounters with US aircraft. Some of the unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs), as the military refers to UFOs, appear to have been moving without any observable means of propulsion.
What occurred during the hearing?
During the hearing at the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation, top Pentagon intelligence official Ronald Moultrie stated that through rigorous analysis, most UAPs can be identified, but not all of them.
“We can likely isolate, characterize, identify, and if necessary mitigate any object we encounter,” said Moultrie. However, a small number of incidents still remain unexplained. One such incident occurred in 2004, where fighter pilots operating from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific encountered an object that seemingly descended tens of thousands of feet before stopping and hovering.
Another incident, which was shown publicly for the first time on Tuesday, an object can be seen on camera flying past a US Navy fighter jet, which remains unexplained.
There are a small number of events in which the flight characteristics or signature management cannot be explained with the available data,” said Scott Bray, the deputy director of naval intelligence.
“These are the events that are of the most interest to us.” Mr. Bray also sought to dispel the idea that UAPs might be extraterrestrial aliens, noting that no organic or inorganic material or unexplainable wreckage has ever been recovered, and no attempts have been made at communicating with the objects.
“We have detected no indications within the UAP task force that would suggest it’s anything non-terrestrial in origin,” he said.
During the hearing, lawmakers expressed concern that any unexplained aerial phenomenon might pose a threat to national security. Arkansas Republican, Rick Crawford, stated that failing to identify potential threats was “tantamount to an intelligence failure that we certainly want to avoid.”
“It’s not about finding alien spacecraft,” he added.
In cases of objects with unexplainable propulsion, Mr Bray said that the US is “not aware” of any potential adversaries with such technologies.
Following the public hearing, the committee closed its doors for a private classified session with lawmakers.
How did we get here?
The public’s interest in flying saucers, glowing lights, and otherworldly aircraft has been ongoing for generations. The last public hearings on the issue began in 1966, when Republican Congressman and future President Gerald Ford convened a pair of hearings to discuss UFO sightings following one in Michigan that was observed by over 40 people, including a dozen policemen.
Air Force officials attributed the incident to “swamp gas”, leading Ford to dismiss their explanation as “flippant”.
In 1969, an Air Force investigation into UFOs called Project Blue Book closed after determining that no flying object had ever been confirmed or deemed a threat to US national security.
Fast forward to 2017, when US media reported on the Pentagon’s secretive efforts to investigate testimony from pilots and other US military members who had reported seeing strange objects in the sky.
The reports included footage of the UFOs and descriptions of how they seemed to fly in unexpected ways, including hovering in place during high winds and rapidly changing elevation.
Pilots described seeing them on an almost “daily basis” outside military bases, and one whistleblower described how UAPs had interfered with US nuclear weapons facilities, even forcing some offline.
In 2020, a Covid relief bill signed by Donald Trump included a provision requiring US intelligence agencies to deliver an unclassified report on UAPs within 180 days.
In June 2021, the US Director of National Intelligence released a report stating that it had no explanation for dozens of unidentified flying objects related to 144 incidents dating back to 2004. Only one could be easily explained as a deflating balloon, while the others were labeled “largely inconclusive”.
“Most of the UAP reported probably do represent physical objects,” the report stated, adding that 80 of them were detected on multiple advanced military sensors and radar systems.
The June 2021 report failed to reach any conclusive answers in regards to what the objects are or how they function. It called for expanded investigation and better data collection, given the stigma government workers may have against describing unexplained encounters.
Last December, Democrats succeeded in including a stronger disclosure requirement in the annual National Defense Authorization Act signed by Joe Biden. The law requires the military to establish a permanent office for UAP research, now called the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group.