Most UFO reports likely to be 'ordinary,' government says, as investigation continues

ByLuis Martinez ABCNews logo
Thursday, October 19, 2023
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A former intelligence community official testified Wednesday on an alleged covert government program to recover and reverse engineer crashed alien spacecraft.

The Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community believe that as better data becomes available, the "unidentified and purported anomalous nature" of most of the hundreds of UFO reports they have been investigating will likely be explained by "ordinary phenomena," according to a government review of the incidents that was released on Wednesday.

NOTE: The video in the media player is from a previous report.

The number of accounts of unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAPs -- which is the official name now used for what were known as UFOs -- has grown to 801, with an increase of 291 additional reports from Aug. 31,2022, to April 30 of this year, according to the new government review.

The total number of UAP sightings that is being examined by the Pentagon and intelligence officials stretches back decades and includes those made by both military and civilian personnel.

The report released Wednesday is the first to be compiled jointly by Pentagon and the director of national intelligence's office in light of new legislation passed by Congress.

The first-ever unclassified U.S. intelligence report on UAPs was released in June 2021, also due to congressional legislation, and detailed 144 incidents -- only one of which could be explained.

The new report states that the Pentagon office reviewing UAP incidents, known as the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, or AARO, is making progress in analyzing and integrating the hundreds of sightings it continues to receive.

New UFO report shows hundreds more incidents than previously thought

U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed hundreds of additional "unidentified aerial phenomena" sightings.

The report cites "gaps in domain awareness," such as a lack of information from sensor systems or other technological and mechanical issues, as the main reason for the continuing increase in the incidents being reviewed by AARO.

"These gaps are the direct result of insufficient data secured by radar, electro-optical (EO)/infrared (IR) sensors, the presence of sensor artifacts, such as IR flare; and optical effects such as parallax, that can cause observational misperceptions," the report states.

Because the government's original UAP focus was on reports filed by military personnel, the total number of reports being investigated still tilts heavily toward those near military facilities and airspace, though that number is decreasing as more than 100 incidents from the Federal Aviation Administration are now being reviewed, according to the government report.

"Based on the ability to resolve cases to date, with an increase in the quality of the data secured, the unidentified and purported anomalous nature of most UAP will likely resolve to ordinary phenomena and significantly reduce the amount of UAP case submissions," the report states.

The report also plays down the potential aerial dangers that could be posed by UAPs by noting that the AARO had received no reports during the collection period that suggested that "UAP maneuvered to an unsafe proximity to civil or military aircraft, positioned themselves in flight paths, or otherwise posed a direct threat to flight safety of the observing aircraft."

In an ABC News interview this past summer, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the head of AARO, said that being caught off guard by "intelligent or extraterrestrial technical surprise" remained a top concern.

"Data and science has to guide where you go, and we will follow the data," Kirkpatrick said then.

In late August, the Pentagon launched a new website to serve as a one-stop clearinghouse for unclassified information about UAPs.

The platform includes unclassified videos and photos of resolved cases as well as links to reports and other resources. It will soon have a feature enabling AARO to accept reports "from current or former U.S. Government employees, service members, or contractors with direct knowledge of U.S. Government programs or activities related to UAP dating back to 1945."

In June, the Pentagon issued a statement that "to date, AARO has not discovered any verifiable information to substantiate claims that any programs regarding the possession or reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial materials have existed in the past or exist currently."

The was issued in response to unconfirmed claims by David Grusch, a former intelligence official who said he was stepping forward as a whistleblower to say that the U.S. had been collecting non-human craft for "decades."

In late July, a House Government Oversight subcommittee held a hearing where Grusch went public with his allegations and urged Congress to investigate.