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The US government recently investigated 144 reports of unidentified flying object sightings since 2004, and only one has been explained with confidence, a highly-anticipated report released Friday revealed.
An unclassified report prepared by the US intelligence community and the Department of Defense on unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP, as the government refers to them, said that of the 144 reports, 80 involved observation by multiple sensors.
The government said the episodes could range from birds and atmospheric phenomena like ice crystals to experimental vehicles and hypersonic weapons being developed by the US and foreign powers, while holding out the possibility that some of the sightings showing the most unusual flight patterns and activity could be something else entirely.
Though the reports of UAP sightings date back to 2004, most of the reports have come in the last two years due to changes in the reporting process within the military.
In 18 incidents detailed in 21 UAP reports, observers noticed that the object in question moved or flew in unusual ways, such as moving at high speed without any detectable means of propulsion.
“We are conducting further analysis to determine if breakthrough technologies were demonstrated,” the report said.
The report, which focused largely on incidents in which military aviators witnessed a UAP firsthand or in which the UAP was observed by reliable systems, said that in a majority of the reported cases, the UAP interrupted training and other military activities.
“Incursions into our training ranges and designated airspace pose safety of flight and operations security concerns, and may pose national security challenges,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday.
“DOD takes reports of incursions — by any aerial object, identified or unidentified — very seriously, and investigates each one,” he added.
The government report released Friday said there probably is not a single explanation for all of the reported UAP sightings.
“The UAP documented in this limited dataset demonstrate an array of aerial behaviors, reinforcing the possibility there are multiple types of UAP requiring different explanations,” it said.
There is limited data and sometimes inconsistency in reporting, but analysis of these incidents suggests that if and when these UAPs are explained, they will fall into one of five categories, namely “airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, USG or industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, and a catchall ‘other’ bin.”
A senior US official who spoke to CNN and other reporters said that “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.”
Kirby said that “the report submitted today highlights the challenges associated with assessing UAP occurring on or near DOD training ranges and installations.” That said, there is a plan to continue investigating them, he explained.