A U.S. government report on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), or what used to be called unidentified flying objects (UFOs), did not find evidence that they are alien spacecraft, though the report also does not exactly say they aren’t, The New York Times reported.
Citing unnamed government officials, the Times wrote that the UFO report, commissioned by Congress and set to be released in a few weeks, does not reach a definitive conclusion about what U.S. military pilots and hundreds of others have reported seeing or have filmed over decades.
The officials told the Times that the report could not link the majority of the 120 incidents it researched during the past 20 years to anything the U.S. military or any other U.S. agency would employ. CNN reported that unnamed sources familiar with the report suggested that the objects seen could have been developed by Russia or China.
While the report will not link the incidents of unidentified aerial phenomena to aliens, it cannot provide an explanation for the way some of the objects move and the speed at which they seem to accelerate.
China and Russia have both invested heavily in hypersonic technology, according to the Times.
An unclassified version of the report is expected to be released to Congress by June 25.
What did Congress ask for in the report?
The call for a government-sanctioned report was in the Intelligence Authorization Act for the 2021 fiscal year, which passed as part of the 2.3 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in December. It directed the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to produce and deliver an unclassified report on unidentified flying objects to Congress within six months.
The wording in the December COVID-19 relief bill says the report must include “detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence” collected by the Office of Naval Intelligence, the FBI, and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. The task force was created last year by the Department of Defense to “detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.”
The report must also include a detailed description of an interagency process that shows how the government will move forward in collecting and analyzing reports of unidentified objects, or UAP (“unidentified aerial phenomena”), as they are now called.
The law also says the report must speak to whether incidents of unidentified objects pose a potential national security threat, if they pose a threat to U.S. military assets and installations, and whether they may be “attributed to one or more foreign adversaries.”
Here, from the legislation, is what the intelligence organizations must provide:
- A detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence reporting collected or held by the Office of Naval Intelligence, including data and intelligence reporting held by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force;
- A detailed analysis of unidentified phenomena data collected by geospatial intelligence; signals intelligence; human intelligence; and measurement and signals intelligence;
- A detailed analysis of data from the FBI, which was derived from investigations of intrusions of unidentified aerial phenomena data over restricted United States airspace;
- A detailed description of an interagency process for ensuring timely data collection and centralized analysis of all unidentified aerial phenomena reporting for the federal government, regardless of which service or agency acquired the information;
- Identification of an official accountable for the process described in paragraph 4;
- Identification of potential aerospace or other threats posed by the unidentified aerial phenomena to national security, and an assessment of whether this unidentified aerial phenomena activity may be attributed to one or more foreign adversaries;
- Identification of any incidents or patterns that indicate a potential adversary may have achieved breakthrough aerospace capabilities that could put United States strategic or conventional forces at risk;
- Recommendations regarding increased collection of data, enhanced research and development, additional funding and other resources.
The report will be submitted in unclassified form but may include a classified annex, meaning that the general public should eventually be able to see most of the report, with some parts likely to remain classified.
What prompted the call for the report?
While the government has investigated reports of UFO sightings for decades, anticipation for the release of the report has grown in recent years. Christopher Mellon, deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, spoke to “60 Minutes” last month about how his growing knowledge of reports of unidentified craft sparked his desire to see a public conversation on the objects.
Mellon talked about Navy pilots’ encounters with UFOs, and a Pentagon initiative called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) which investigated such incidents. The AATIP was originally part of a $22 million program sponsored by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to investigate UFOs. The program was discontinued in 2012.
In 2017, after he left government service, Mellon acquired three U.S. Navy videos that showed pilots’ interactions with unidentified crafts, and leaked the declassified material to The New York Times.
“It’s bizarre and unfortunate that someone like myself has to do something like that to get a national security issue like this on the agenda,” Mellon told “60 Minutes.”
“We knew and understood that you had to go to the public, get the public interested to get Congress interested, to then circle back to the Defense Department and get them to start taking a look at it,” Mellon said.
Click here to see the video from Navy pilots of their encounter.
Last month, former CIA director James Woolsey told Black Vault, a website that collects information on paranormal events, that he is “not as skeptical as I was a few years ago, to put it mildly,” about UFOs, and that “something is going on that is surprising to a series of intelligent aircraft, experienced pilots.”
According to astronomer Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona, “Most UFOs have mundane explanations.
Impey says he believes people see the objects, but what they are seeing is more likely to have a down-to-Earth explanation.
“Scientists dismiss these beliefs as not representing real physical phenomena. They don’t deny the existence of intelligent aliens, but they set a high bar for proof that we’ve been visited by creatures from another star system.”As Carl Sagan said, ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’”
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