For the first time in more than 50 years, U.S. officials faced a congressional hearing to answer questions about what the government knows regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, commonly referred to as UFOs.

Very little new information came to light at the hearing. Much of it was already in the public domain as a result of an extensive report released last summer on what the government — specifically the military — had been able to learn.

But there were a few new extraordinary videos released that only deepened the mystery.

For many lawmakers and a growing number of military and intelligence officials, the worry is not that aliens are visiting the earth but that a foreign country has come up with technological breakthroughs that enable them to threaten American superiority in the air.


Democratic Rep. André Carson of Indiana, the chairman of the panel holding the hearing, warned in his opening remarks, “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena are a potential national security threat. And they need to be treated that way.”

He went on to say, “For too long, the stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis. Pilots avoided reporting, or were laughed at when they did. DOD officials relegated the issue to the back room, or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community.”

“Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it’s true. But they are real. They need to be investigated. And any threats they pose need to be mitigated,” he said.

If there’s one thing to take away from the government’s investigations, it’s that these aerial phenomena are not mirages or optical illusions. They are solid objects “measurable by multiple instruments” that seem “to move in directions that are inconsistent with what we know of physics or science more broadly,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That last point is debatable according to some physicists who question the jump to conclusions that other scientists have made. Nevertheless, Scott W. Bray, Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, who leads the Pentagon’s effort to identify UAPs, points out that one of the challenges facing investigators is that there’s a lot more stuff in the sky today than there was even at the turn of the century.

NBC News:

Bray said that since the early 2000s, the U.S. has seen an “increasing number of unauthorized and or unidentified aircraft or objects” in military-controlled training areas and other designated airspace.

“Reports of sightings are frequent and continuing,” said Bray, who explained that there has been an increase not only because of the effort to destigmatize reporting them, but also because there’s been an increase in unmanned aerial systems, clutter, mylar balloons, air trash and improvements in the capabilities of sensors in U.S. airspace.

Some objects cannot be properly identified, officials said. Bray, for example, played a video during the hearing taken from an airborne pilot’s cockpit operating in a U.S. Navy training range that showed a “spherical object” fly past the aircraft.

It’s enormously difficult to identify an object that might have been captured in a recording lasting only a few seconds. That’s just one of the challenges facing investigators going forward. Perhaps if we began to see UFOs as terrestrial threats rather than as aliens from another civilization, we’d make more progress in unraveling their mystery.

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