The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its long-waited Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) report to Congress on the day of its deadline Friday, revealing that the U.S. still can’t explain the flying objects that have disrupted military activities more than a hundred times over the last 17 years.
The 9-page assessment mentions 144 U.S. government reports of UAPs from 2004 to 2021, most of which came out in the past two years when reporting mechanisms were first established in March 2019 with the Navy, and November 2020 with the Air Force.
The report admits that all but one of the 144 incidents remains unexplained. The single instance in which a UAP was later identified involved a “large, deflating balloon.”
A wide array of potential explanations are provided by the report. One of the explanations is technology deployed by China, Russia, or elsewhere. Another explanation attributes the objects to “birds, balloons … or airborne debris like plastic bags.” Other explanations point to atmospheric conditions like ice crystals and moisture, work done by other U.S. government entities, and a lack of data.
The report said that witnesses in 18 separate incidents observed UAPs moving in strange patterns or movements.
“Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion. In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems processed radio frequency (RF) energy associated with UAP sightings,” the report said.
However, the report says the unusual patterns and movements could actually be “the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception.”
The report says that most UAP incidents involved objects that interrupted military training or activities, and sightings occurred mostly around U.S. training and testing grounds. It characterizes UAPs as a flight safety issue and “a challenge to U.S. national security.”
In 11 of the UAP reports, pilots reported “near misses with a UAP.”
The report notes that the U.S. doesn’t have enough data to determine whether the incidents could be attributed to a foreign adversary, but it continues to look for clues that could indicate such, given the sensitive areas in which UAPs have been reported.
After the report’s release, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said, “The report submitted today highlights the challenges associated with assessing UAP occurring on or near DOD training ranges and installations. The report also identified the need to make improvements in processes, policies, technologies, and training to improve our ability to understand UAP.”
“Incursions into our training ranges and designated airspace pose safety of flight and operations security concerns, and may pose national security challenges. DOD takes reports of incursions – by any aerial object, identified or unidentified – very seriously, and investigates each one,” Kirby added.
Kirby announced that Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks directed the DOD to “formalize the mission” of the UAP task force carried out together by the ODNI and Defense Department.
Formalizing the mission will entail establishing formal procedures for data collection, reporting, and analysis, develop recommendations for securing sensitive military properties, and develop continuous activities for the DOD to carry out as a leader in the UAP effort.