The US government is candid about UFOs
BBETWEEN 2004 and 2021, US military pilots recorded 144 reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (PAUs), the government’s po-face term for UFOs. One turned out to be a large deflating balloon. The others are a mystery. Thus concluded a long-awaited report published on June 25 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which coordinates the work of US intelligence agencies. The nine-page “preliminary assessment” was the result of pressure from Congress. In June last year, the Senate Intelligence Committee, then chaired by Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, called on the Department of Defense to create a PAU Task Force to streamline the collection of reports. In January, he had six months to publish his findings.
Some are striking. One is that PAUs “probably represent physical objects”, rather than being technical anomalies or the imagination of pilots. This is because more than half of the objects were recorded through multiple sensors, including radar and infrared. Additionally, 18 of the incidents suggested “unusual flight characteristics”, such as moving upwind or maneuvering abruptly, although the report warns that this could be the result of sensor errors or misperception.
Still, the report is thin mush for alien hunters. the ODNI says that if the incidents are ever resolved, they will likely fall into one of five categories: aerial congestion (like hobbyist drones), natural atmospheric phenomena (ice crystals, for example), classified aircraft programs, “Foreign adversaries” or an “other” – which is as close as the report comes to entertaining otherworldly possibilities.
Few people in the Pentagon seem to care about alien invaders. Their concerns are more prosaic, and geopolitical. PAUs present a “flight safety problem” on the one hand; American pilots reported 11 near misses. The other concern is that the incidents point to Chinese or Russian espionage or, worse, evidence of “revolutionary technologies”, such as revolutionary means of propulsion.
The report amounts to a giant shrug. The evidence is “largely inconclusive,” he says. Stronger conclusions will require more data. the PAU The working group will now collect data from more sources, including historical radar records. It will make better use of artificial intelligence to spot patterns, for example if PAUs coincide with balloons or wildlife. And that will standardize the reporting of all military services, as much of the existing data comes from the navy.
Part of the answer may lie in more and better sensors. An object that appears to be moving at hypersonic speeds could be an artifact of a moving camera, an illusion known as parallax. Observing it through more sensors, including those that detect parts of the electromagnetic spectrum above and below visible light, would help.
There is also a human element. Kathleen Hicks, the Assistant Secretary of Defense, ordered the Pentagon to put the PAU Task Force on an ongoing basis and ensure that it receives sighting reports within two weeks.
But one of the biggest obstacles to collecting data is the stigma associated with this problem. Airmen and Analysts “Describe Denigration” When Reporting or Discussing PAUs, says it ODNI. “The reputational risk can keep many observers silent,” he warns, “complicating the scientific pursuit of the subject. “
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This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “The Truth Is Not Out There”