An unidentified aerial phenomenon in a U.S. military video. (DoD via To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science)[nbcnews.com – 2022.05.17] A pair of top defense intelligence officials on Tuesday laid out the federal government’s efforts to collect data about unidentified aerial phenomena at the first public hearing Congress has held on UFOs in more than 50 years.
The deputy director of naval intelligence, Scott W. Bray, said that since the release last year of a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a task force responsible for studying the phenomena said its database has grown to “approximately 400 reports” of unidentifiable objects. Bray said they’ve received a rise in reports because people have become more comfortable in sharing these encounters seen in the sky.
“The stigma has been reduced,” Bray said.
Bray said that since the early 2000s, the U.S. has seen an “increasing number of unauthorized and or unidentified aircraft or objects” in military-controlled training areas and other designated airspace.
“Reports of sightings are frequent and continuing,” said Bray, who explained that there has been an increase not only because of the effort to destigmatize reporting them, but also because there’s been an increase in unmanned aerial systems, clutter, mylar balloons, air trash and improvements in the capabilities of sensors in U.S. airspace.
Some objects cannot be properly identified, officials said. Bray, for example, played a video during the hearing taken from an airborne pilot’s cockpit operating in a U.S. Navy training range that showed a “spherical object” fly past the aircraft.
To expand the government’s efforts to study these unidentifiable objects, the Pentagon is establishing an office within the office of the secretary of defense, said Ronald S. Moultrie, undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security.
Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., chairman of the House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation Subcommittee, said in his opening remarks that the hearing Tuesday was meant to bring this government effort “out of the shadows.”
“The stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis,” Carson said. “Pilots avoided reporting or were laughed at when they did. DOD officials relegated the issue to the backroom or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community. Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it’s true, but they are real. They need to be investigated, and many threats they pose need to be mitigated.”
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in his remarks that reports of these objects “need to be understood as a national security matter.
“There is something there, measurable by multiple instruments, and yet it seems to move in directions that are inconsistent with what we know of physics or science more broadly,” said Schiff, who said these reports “pose questions of tremendous interest.”