A much-anticipated US government report on UFOs (unidentified flying objects) is due out before the end of June. Here’s what we know so far.
The unclassified report was demanded by Congress after numerous reports from the US military of vehicles moving erratically in the sky.
It also follows a cultural shift that has seen the US military and US political leaders shift from skeptical aliens to curious aliens.
But with little conclusive evidence expected to confirm intergalactic visits, it remains to be seen whether Earthly minds will change.
Military leaders warn that the technology, if not foreign, may belong to American adversaries such as Russia or China.
What do we know about the report?
Last August, the Pentagon created the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force to examine sightings of unknown flying aircraft.
The group’s job is to “detect, analyze and catalog” these events, as well as “gain insight” into the “nature and origins” of UFOs, the Pentagon said.
A classified version of the group’s report was provided to lawmakers earlier this month. Anonymous officials told U.S. media that the report found no evidence of extraterrestrial activity, but did not rule it out either.
Notably, the task force also reportedly established that the UFOs observed were not secret US military technology.
Officials have examined more than 120 incidents over the past two decades, including three videos that the Pentagon declassified last year and described as showing “unexplained aerial phenomena.”
While no heartbreaking revelation is expected, the existence of a government report on a much ridiculed issue shows how UFOs have radiated out of the realm of purely sci-fi pop culture and into the world of US national security. .
Why bother now?
Public pressure on the United States to publish what it knows about aliens has intensified for decades as civilian groups of so-called ufologists claim evidence of their existence has been suppressed by the government .
The Pentagon has been quietly collecting data since 2007 as part of the little-known military advanced aerospace threat identification program.
The money for the program came at the behest of Nevada Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat who represents the region that encompasses Area 51 – the military site where conspiracy theorists believe remains collected in an alien crash in the city of Roswell have been studied since 1947.
Former senior officials and even US presidents have recently questioned whether the truth is really there.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, a longtime follower of UFO theories, pledged during her 2016 campaign that she would release classified government reports on aliens if elected.
In an interview last year, then-President Donald Trump said he would not disclose – even to his family – what he had learned about aliens.
“I won’t tell you what I know about it, but it’s very interesting,” he said.
Former President Barack Obama made it clearer in May, when he told late night television host James Corden, “When I took office I asked … there a lab somewhere where we keep the alien specimens and the spaceship? And you know, they did some research and the answer was no. “
“What is true, and I’m really serious here, is that there are, that there are images and recordings of objects in the sky, that we don’t know exactly what they are. “, continued Mr. Obama.
“We can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory… And so, you know, I think people always take it seriously to try to investigate and figure out what it is.”
The effort to disclose what is known about UFOs has also found supporters in Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – who argue that the report will end the stigma that can prevent troops from speaking to a senior military officer. ‘an inexplicable encounter.
What evidence is there?
Other U.S. military and intelligence officials detailed the bizarre sightings, some of the most credible reports from pilots who have personally observed UFOs near military weapons and training facilities from their cockpits.
In March, Mr Trump’s former director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe – who previously oversaw all 18 US intelligence agencies – summed up the phenomenon by telling Fox News: “Frankly, there are a lot more sightings than what has been made public.
“We are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or that have been picked up by satellite imagery, which frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain.
“Movements that are difficult to reproduce, for which we do not have the technology, or which move at speeds exceeding the sound barrier without sonic boom.”
In a CBS News 60 Minutes episode last month, two former Navy pilots discussed the sight of an object in the Pacific Ocean that appeared to reflect their movements.
One pilot described it as a “little white Tic-Tac-like object”, referring to white oblong mints.
“And that’s exactly what it looked like, except it was moving really fast and very erratically and we couldn’t anticipate which way it was going to turn or how it was maneuvering as it was, or the propulsion system. “Witness and former Navy pilot Alex Dietrich told BBC News.
“It had no apparent smoke trail or propulsion. It had no apparent flight control surface to maneuver as it did.”
What are other countries doing about UFOs?
Former Senator Reid defended the $ 22million (£ 16million) he obtained for the original UFO program at the Pentagon, saying other countries are looking into the matter as well.
“We know China is doing it,” he told Nevada Newsmakers in 2019. “We know Russia, which is run by someone in the KGB, is doing it too, so we better do it. examine it too. “
Research by the US Department of Defense “has shown that not two people, four people or six people or 20 people, but hundreds and hundreds of people have seen these things, sometimes all at the same time,” a- he argued.
Last December, the former Israeli space chief at the country’s defense ministry told a local newspaper that Mr. Trump was “about to reveal” the existence of an intergalactic treaty, but was is withdrawn for fear of inciting “mass hysteria”. “.
“There is an agreement between the US government and the extraterrestrials,” Haim Eshed told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper. “They signed a contract with us to do experiments here.”
The far-fetched statement has not been confirmed – by the man or by Martian.