Washington— A House panel on Tuesday held the first congressional public hearing on unidentified flying objects in more than half a century, with senior Pentagon officials detailing US military efforts to identify hundreds of “phenomena Unidentified Air Vehicles” (UAP) reported by pilots and military.
Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray testified before a House subcommittee on how the Department of Defense organizes reports on UAPs after a mandate from Congressfound that most of the incidents analyzed remain unidentified.
Representative Andre Carson, a Democrat of Indiana and chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism, and Counterproliferation, opened the hearing by saying that UAPs “constitute a potential threat to national security and that they should be treated that way.”
“For too long, the stigma associated with UAPs has impeded proper intelligence analysis. Pilots either avoided reporting or were mocked when they did. DOD officials relegated the problem to the back room or swept it entirely under the rug, skeptical national security community,” Carson said. “Today we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it’s true. But they are real. They need to be investigated. And any threat they pose must be mitigated.”
Last year’s report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Pentagon’s UAP task force found no evidence to suggest the objects are extraterrestrial or from an alien adversary – but the report does also couldn’t explain most of the objects.
Investigators were able to identify one of 144 reports analyzed in their study of unidentified objects “like a large deflating balloon”. But the other 143 UAP reports from 2004 to 2021 remain a mystery.
There is no doubt that the unidentified objects are real objects, whatever they are, as at least 80 of the 144 incidents were detected by multiple sensors, according to the report. “The UAP clearly poses a flight safety concern and may pose a national security challenge to the United States,” the report said.
During the public portion of the hearing, which was followed by a classified session, Bray said the number of reported incidents had risen to around 400 since last year’s report. He said the sightings are “frequent and continuous” and often occur at military training areas or other designated airspace.
He showed lawmakers a video of a UAP observed by a Navy pilot in 2021, a “spherical object” that “quickly passes through the cockpit of the aircraft.”
“I don’t have an explanation of what this specific object is,” Bray said.
Bray said there were no collisions between the strange objects and American planes, but noted that there were at least 11 “near misses”.
The Pentagon has in recent years confirmed the authenticity of several videos and images showing objects under investigation by the UAP task force. Last year,three images released by MysteryWire and one video released by a UFO filmmaker were taken by Navy personnel.
In 2020, the Pentagon released three videos – FLIR, GOFAST and GIMBAL – showing encounters between military airmen and unidentified objects. Fighter pilots who witnessed the object in the 2004 FLIR video spoke to “60 Minutes” last year about their experience.
In November 2021, the Pentagon created the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG) to succeed the Navy’s UAP Task Force, with the goal of better coordinating incident reporting and investigation.
The last congressional public hearing on UFOs took place in the 1960s before the disbandment of “Project Blue Book”, a US Air Force program that investigated and analyzed UFO reports. The project lasted from 1947 to 1969 and was disbanded in part because the objects proved to pose no threat to national security, according to an Air Force fact sheet.