The US Defense Department says it has found no evidence that sightings of aerial phenomena by military personnel are alien spaceships, but it still cannot explain them.
The report, the first of its kind to be released by a major defence agency, states that the vast majority of more than 120 incidents were nothing to do with the US military or government technology, officials said.
An unclassified version of the report will be released to Congress on 25 June, but it will not definitively rule out theories that military pilots had seen alien spacecraft, senior officials briefed on the report told The New York Times.
Reporters and UFO enthusiasts alike have eagerly awaited the report’s publication for weeks, amid new revelations of UFO sightings from retired service members and the release of unclassified video showing strange objects seen by US fighter pilots.
The report follows the creation of a DoD task force last year bent on helping the agency “improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins” of UFOs, and the report’s creation itself was required under the passage of the 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, which was part of the omnibus Covid-19 relief bill signed into law late last year.
Speculation about what it would detail surged in late April with the release of three videos by the Defense Department that show strange objects appearing to evade US aircraft with bizarre, unexplained flight patterns.
In May, the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General also announced that it would investigate the agency’s past handling of UFO reports.
“DoD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” the Pentagon said at the time. “The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterised as ‘unidentified.’”
Calls for answers from UFO enthusiasts have grown in recent years, including from former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), who in April tweeted that the information released by DoD only “scratches the surface of research and materials available” on the subject.
“I believe that there is information uncovered by the government’s covert investigations into unidentified aerial phenomena that can be disclosed to the public without harming our national security,” Mr Reid added in a May op-ed for The New York Times.
“The American people deserve to know more – and hopefully they will soon, with the release of a comprehensive government report requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the military’s encounters with UFOs,” he continued.
Former President Barack Obama also addressed the report’s impending release this week on an episode of The Ezra Klein Show, arguing that the confirmation of the existence of alien life would likely challenge belief systems around the world.
“It’s interesting. It wouldn’t change my politics at all. Because my entire politics is premised on the fact that we are these tiny organisms on this little speck floating in the middle of space,” said Mr Obama.
“But no doubt there would be immediate arguments about like, well, we need to spend a lot more money on weapons systems to defend ourselves. New religions would pop up,” the former president added in his interview. “And who knows what kind of arguments we get into. We’re good at manufacturing arguments for each other.”
On Thursday, a former DoD official-turned whistleblower who was in charge of an UFO investigation unit, Luiz Elizondo, warned that the unclassified report could be watered down, in an interview with the New York Post.
Mr Elizondo added that “the Pentagon’s Public Affairs officers, and those who give them orders, continue to obfuscate and mislead the American people about the reality of UAPs”.