The Pentagon’s long-awaited report on UFOs was released to Congress and the public Friday. A meager nine pages, it leaves open more questions than it answers.
The report analyzed 144 cases of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), more commonly known as UFOs, sighted by U.S. military pilots since 2004. Just one observation was attributed to a large, deflating balloon, while intelligence and defense analysts lacked sufficient data to identify the other 143.
Although the report avoided explicitly mentioning the possibility of an extraterrestrial origin, senior U.S. officials said they have yet to rule it out.
Asked about potential alien explanations, one of the officials said: “That’s not the purpose of the task force, to evaluate any sort of search for extraterrestrial life. … That’s not what we were charged with doing. … Of the 144 reports we are dealing with here, we have no clear indications that there is any non-terrestrial explanation for them – but we will go wherever the data takes us.”
The report established five potential explanatory categories: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, U.S. government or American industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems and a catch-all “other” category. A senior official said there were no “clear indications” that the UAP are advanced technology by a foreign adversary.
The report stated that UAPs “probably lack a single explanation,” and some of them may be the fault of sensor glitches or witness misperceptions. They require “additional rigorous analysis,” it said, and added that they clearly pose a safety-of-flight issue and may be a threat to national security.
Eighty cases involved observations from multiple sensors, and the task force focused on phenomena witnessed first-hand by pilots. Most were from the past few years.
The study documented 11 UAP near-misses reported by pilots and a small number of cases in which military aircraft “processed radio frequency energy associated with UAP sightings.” Most reports also described objects that interrupted training or other U.S. military exercises, it stated.
Jason Colavito, a UFO expert and skeptic, told Space Channel the report’s contents were unsurprising. “Few expected anything dramatic, and if it seems boring it is because the lack of data and evidence makes firm conclusions difficult,” he said.
“While the report is the result of lobbying from UFO advocates, the actual report was written by a small number of career staffers with no known connection to UFO advocacy. While there were a few takeaways that believers see as sensational, the overall tone is one of concern that the lack of evidence leads to potentially faulty conclusions. The task force seems to have conducted only secondary research, reviewing testimony and sensor reports, but conducting no original research. There is also no mention of consulting relevant outside experts, or even of studying the sensors detecting the vast majority of so-called encounters. Overall, the report is highly provisional and better serves as a call for a new UFO program–something the Pentagon quickly implemented–and a brief for more funding, more defense contracts, and more consultants.”
The report, labeled a “preliminary assessment,” was compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as well as a Navy-led task force created after Senator Marco Rubio commissioned it with Congress last year. On Friday, the Pentagon announced plans to “formalize” the investigation undertaken by the task force into UAPs.
Previously, in 1969, the U.S. Air Force conducted an investigation called Project Blue Book that compiled a list of 12,618 sightings, 701 of which involved objects that officially remained “unidentified.”