UFOs may be real, but there’s still not enough evidence for the U.S. government to confirm the existence of extraterrestrials. That’s the takeaway from Congress’s first meeting in half a century on unidentified flying objects.
On Tuesday, Pentagon officials testified before a House Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee. The testimony centered around what the government officially calls “unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).”
Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie presented visuals during their testimony of different UAPs.
In one example shown at the hearing green, triangular objects were seen flying around at night. Bray said the images were a mystery for some time but are now identified as unmanned aerial vehicles. They appear triangular in the images, according to Bray, because they were seen through night-vision goggles.
In another example presented to lawmakers Tuesday, video shows a blue sky with passing clouds. In a single frame, there is an image of one balloon-like shape. The video was captured by a military F-18 pilot. In an exchange with Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Bray said he had no explanation for what the object in the video could be.
Bray said Tuesday there have been at least 11 “near misses” between UAPs and U.S. military aircraft. An interim report released by intelligence officials last year counted 144 sightings of aircraft or other devices apparently flying at mysterious speeds or trajectories. In all but one of the sightings investigated, there was too little information for investigators to even broadly characterize the nature of the incident. Bray said the U.S military isn’t actively trying to communicate with UAPs.
Moultrie said the Pentagon is trying to destigmatize the issue of UAPs and is encouraging pilots and other military personnel to report any sightings. A new taskforce to coordinate the data collection around UAP sightings was created by the Pentagon, and Moultrie said a director was picked to lead it.
“We want to know what’s out there as much as you want to know what’s out there,” Moultrie told lawmakers. “We get the questions not just from you. We get it from family, and we get them night and day.”
Lawmakers from both parties say UFOs are a national security concern. Sightings of what appear to be aircraft flying without discernible means of propulsion have been reported near military bases and coastlines, raising the prospect witnesses have spotted undiscovered or secret Chinese or Russian technology.
Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) noted the investigations were not “about finding alien spacecraft but about delivering dominant intelligence.”
“The inability to understand objects in our sensitive operating areas is tantamount to intelligence failure that we certainly want to avoid,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.