Over the past few years, U.S. intelligence agencies have intensively scrutinized numerous UFO encounters, seeking to provide clarity to the public: It’s not aliens, according to anonymous officials from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) who spoke with The New York Times. The recent surge in UFO sightings, termed unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) by the government, is often attributed to foreign surveillance activities or aerial clutter like weather balloons. Notably, some UAP incidents have been identified as Chinese surveillance drones, raising concerns about China’s interest in U.S. pilot training methods, given its history of pilfering plans for advanced American fighter planes.
The assessments of UAP sightings, particularly those involving seemingly physics-defying maneuvers, lean towards optical illusions, as per the DoD officials. For instance, the widely known “GOFAST” video, recorded by a U.S. Navy aircraft and later declassified, presents an object appearing to move at incredible speeds over water. However, the officials clarify that this is a visual trick caused by the recording angle; in reality, the object is traveling at a modest 30 mph (48 km/h).
The recent classified UAP report submitted to Congress by DoD’s intelligence agencies likely aligns with the insights shared by The Times. This report builds upon the information disclosed in the June 2021 document, acknowledging 144 reported UAP incidents between 2004 and 2021. While the 2021 report couldn’t definitively explain most encounters due to data limitations, it suggested potential explanations like technologies from other nations, airborne clutter, or birds. Notably absent from the report were mentions of aliens, though conspiracy theories persisted, fueled by the government’s general reticence on UAP matters.
The DoD, committed to sharing relevant UAP information without compromising national security, faces challenges in conclusively explaining phenomena due to data gaps. Sue Gough, a DoD spokesperson, emphasized the ongoing effort to address these shortcomings, aiming to enhance data collection for analysis. Concurrently, NASA has initiated an independent UAP study team, set to operate from October 2022 to mid-2023, with a focus on gathering and analyzing UAP data to develop improved methods for identifying these enigmatic objects in American skies.