On May 17, Pentagon officials showed lawmakers two videos of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), more colloquially known as UFOs, in the first open congressional hearing on the topic since 1966. The testimony before the House Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee showed two videos taken by US military personnel.
Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray explains a video of an unidentified aerial phenomenon, as he testifies before a House Intelligence Committee Subcommittee hearing at the United States Capitol in Washington , May 17, 2022.
The first video, filmed in 2021 by servicemen through the window of a US Navy plane, showed a spherical object with white reflections passing in front of the device.
“I have no explanation of what this specific object is ,” said Scott W. Bray, deputy director of naval intelligence involved in the UAP Task Force (UAPTF), the body during the hearing. of the Pentagon in charge of UAP investigations.
The second video, shot by an SLR camera through a night vision goggle, shows a triangular-shaped object moving across the sky while emitting light. This time, Bray is “reasonably confident” those triangles were drones flying through the area.
“The triangular appearance is the result of light passing through night vision goggles and then being recorded by an SLR camera,” Bray explained.
Whether it’s stories of intercontinental ballistic missiles being rendered inoperative during a UFO sighting or footage of flying objects violating the laws of physics, Pentagon officials have told lawmakers that incidents of observation are ‘frequent’ and ‘increasing’, but that they cannot offer ‘firm conclusions’ as to their nature or intent.
The hearing came less than a year after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a report on the subject — commonly referred to as the Pentagon’s UAP report — in which the Pentagon identified 144 UAP sightings between 2004 and 2021, but could only explain one.
Mr. Bray said that “the UAP Task Force database has grown and now contains around 400 reports” since the preliminary assessment was published in June 2021.
Bray noted that some of these reports involved incidents in which U.S. military aircraft picked up radio frequency (RF) energy from UAPs, but none of these detections suggested they were “of unrelated origin.” earthly. The June 2021 report says these RF energy detections have occurred in a “small number of cases.”
The official did not comment during the hearing on whether any of the remaining reports suggested evidence of extraterrestrial life.
The hearing included a public part in the morning and a closed session starting at noon.
National security concern
Officials at the hearing said the UAPTF is beginning to seriously examine the potential threat UAPs pose to U.S. national security and to assess the nature and intent of these phenomena — most of which are inexplicable. for current US intelligence services – and to investigate whether they belong to an opposing power.
“Unidentified aerial phenomena pose a potential threat to national security, and they should be treated as such,” said Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), chairman of the subcommittee. “When we spot something we don’t understand or can’t identify in our airspace, it’s the job of those we trust with our national security to investigate. And report back.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis) asked about an incident report at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, in which he describes that “10 of our nuclear ICBMs were rendered inoperative” while “a glowing orb was observed above our heads. »
“This data is not in the UAP Task Force archives,” Bray replied, adding that he had heard “stories” but had not seen the official data.
The sighting incidents the Pentagon is most interested in are those that have “flight characteristics or signature management that we can’t explain with the data we have,” Bray said when asked. on his knowledge of flying objects which appear to move without visible means of propulsion and which violate existing principles of physics.
“I would say that we are not aware of any adversary capable of moving an object without a discernible means of propulsion,” he added.
When Pentagon officials disclosed that China had a separate agency to investigate UAPs and that “some” intelligence sharing was taking place between the United States and outside agencies, Representative Brad Wenstrup ( R-Ohio) adopted a cautious tone.
“If [these technologies] are developed by an adversary through breakthrough technology, they can disrupt our military actions or, at least, serve to disrupt them,” Wenstrup warned. “Be careful who we share our data with, and don’t necessarily trust some of the data we may get from someone else. »
In addition, Mr. Carson asked officials whether they had processes in place to verify whether incidents investigated by Task Force UAP were classified projects developed by the U.S. military.
“As the ODNI report makes clear, one possible explanation for the UAPs is that we are detecting US aircraft, either secret air programs or even test prototypes,” Carson said. “I want to make sure the US government isn’t chasing its own tail. »
Ronald S. Moultrie, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, responded that the UAPTF has a process for working with the Pentagon and other US government agencies to “unconfuse” its investigations with potential testing of new technologies.
Mr. Bray stressed that not all of the information collected by the task force can be made public, as the methods and technologies used by the US military to uncover and collect the UAP data could be sensitive information about the security plan.
“We don’t want potential adversaries to know exactly what we are able to see or understand or how we come to a conclusion,” Bray said. “Therefore, disclosures must be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.”
“Our goal is to strike that delicate balance, which allows us to retain the public’s trust while preserving the capabilities that are critical to supporting our military personnel,” Bray explained.
US programs responsible for UAPs
In 2017, The New York Times reported on the existence of a Pentagon program to collect data on space phenomena, which was effectively part of the remnants of the $22 million Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. , which began in 2007.
Although the Pentagon ended funding for the program in 2012, according to the Times, some of its functions, such as collecting and investigating military UAP sighting incidents, remained.
In June 2020, the Senate Intelligence Community voted to direct the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Pentagon and other relevant agencies, to submit a report containing details of the UAP investigations.
The 9-page report ( pdf ) titled “Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” released in June last year included authentication of widely circulated videos and scattered UAP details. In particular, the report states that there is “no clear indication that there is a non-terrestrial explanation” associated with UAPs.
The UAPTF is currently in transition to the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG), which was established on November 23, 2021 and is led by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense to intelligence and security.
“The team has made a lot of progress, but we’re really just laying the groundwork for the more detailed analysis that remains to be done,” Bray said during Tuesday’s hearing.