The federal government received more than 350 reports of UFOs, or unidentified flying objects, since March 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced on Thursday.
A total of 366 UFO sightings were reported to the government in that period. Of those, 163 were identified as “balloon or balloon-entities,” per CNN, while the rest remain unexplained. The term UFO is commonly associated with the idea of alien spacecraft. An alternative term is unidentified aerial phenomenon, or UAP.
The ODNI report observed that a majority of sightings came from Air Force or Navy pilots “during the course of their operational duties and reported the events.”
UAPs, extraterrestrial or otherwise, can present potential security threats should the sightings occur in restricted areas. The report observed that “UAP events continue to occur in restricted or sensitive airspace, highlighting possible concerns for safety of flight or adversary collection activity.”
“We continue to assess that this may result from a collection bias due to the number of active aircraft and sensors, combined with focused attention and guidance to report anomalies,” it continued.
Speculation about the nature of UFOs has long been popular in the United States, with much of the discussion directly around the restricted site Area 51, a highly classified Air Force facility in Nevada known as a testing ground for experimental aircraft.