The truth regarding the existence of alien life has long been rumoured to be out there, but only now, with the publication of the government’s report on UFOs, has it finally arrived. Well, sort of.
The report, compiled and released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on Friday, was hyped as a potential blockbuster following the breathless news coverage preceding its publication. Rumours swirled of the government unlocking its troves of previously classified files on extraterrestrial life, giving conspiracy theorists the mainstream credibility they’ve long sought.
Those rumours, however, haven’t produced the kind of seismic revelations that some people wanted, as the nine page report mostly confirms what we already knew: There has been an uptick in mysterious sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) in recent years. (The government used its own terminology throughout the report, substituting UAP for UFO.) Beyond that, though, we still don’t know a whole lot.
What is in the government’s UFO report?
The report was compiled by the ODNI and the FBI and delivered to Congress, which had subtly added a provision for its funding into last year’s $US2.3 ($3) trillion COVID-19 relief package bill. An Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force was announced last August to probe the uptick in sightings, which had an ardent cheerleader in Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who railed against the stigma of researching UFOs earlier this year. Harry Reid, a former democratic senator from Nevada, was also a proponent of UFO research, having proposed a similar endeavour in 2017.
The overall takeaway of the report is that these mysterious sightings are still perplexing the government: Out of the 144 UAP sightings made by military planes between 2004 and 2021, 143 can’t be explained or identified, according to the current capabilities of the U.S. government. Per the report, the UAPs included were detected “across multiple sensors, to include radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers, and visual observation.” The one UAP that was identifiable turned out to be a deflated balloon, NBC News reports.
It is presumable that the government intends to further study these sightings, as the report notes the five categories that will eventually define all UAP sightings: “[A]irborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, USG or U.S. industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, and a catchall ‘other’ bin.” While all of the UAP sightings demonstrated “unusual flight characteristics,” the report is quick to snuff out any room for speculation, noting that the strange flight patterns could have been the product of “sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis.”
Government officials, although speaking on the record about an unclassified report available for public consumption, are notably cagey. On Friday, an official told NBC News: “We have no clear indications that there is any nonterrestrial explanation for them — but we will go wherever the data takes us.” The official added that data is similarly lacking in terms of determining whether any of these sightings are the product of technologically advanced foreign adversaries.
The report was presaged by a bit of a media frenzy, including a 60 Minutes segment that quoted Luis Elizondo, the former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, who described aircraft that certainly sounded, well, foreign: Per his telling, these are crafts that can zoom at “6-to-700 g-forces, that can fly at 20,921 km an hour, that can evade radar, and that can fly through air and water and possibly space.”
Two particularly high-profile sightings, both of which were caught on video in 2004 and 2015 and subsequently declassified by the U.S. Department of Defence, also stoked the public’s thirst for confirmation of aliens. The videos were declassified in 2007 and 2017 and made for viral soundbites as they were published across the web, and later resurfaced as part of the government inquiry.
Those with a burning desire for irrefutable evidence of alien life will probably be dismayed that the word “alien” doesn’t appear once in the government’s report. Still, with all sightings but one unconfirmed, there are probably still plenty of folks who are holding out hope that the nation’s top brass will confirm the existence of extraterrestrial life flying through our airspace — one day.