Congress: Drones responsible for some UFO sightings, but others unexplained

UFO pictures at hearing

On Tuesday, a House subcommittee held a meeting discussing UFOs, as well as the potential national security threat they pose.

A subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee, the subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation met today to discuss Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and the potential threat they pose to national security. This comes nearly two years after the Department of Defense established the “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force.”

Representative André Carson, the subcommittee chair, opened the meeting by noting that it has been over 50 years since the government ended Project Blue Book, the government’s efforts to study UFOs. “For more than 20 years, that project had treated unidentified anomalies in our airspace as a national security threat to be monitored and investigated.”

The group now refers to these as “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” or UAPs, no doubt in part to avoid the connotation of the term UFOs with aliens and conspiracy theories.

Unidentified aerial phenomena are a national security threat, and they need to be treated that way. 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.

Representative Rick Crawford emphasized important issues related to UAPs, stating the importance of trying to understand if any UFOs are “new technologies” or not. “The Intelligence Committee must balance known threats to national security with preventing technological surprise.”

Need to investigate UAPs

The first witness at the hearing was Ronald Moultrie, a top Pentagon intelligence official. He started by defining UAP as any airborne object that cannot be immediately identified and followed by stating, “We know that our service members have encountered Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon,” and there is a focused effort to determine their origins.

While the exact sources of many of these UAPs are still to be determined, the witness said that there was nothing pointing to extraterrestrial origins. Just as notable, no evidence pointed to the UFOs as being from a foreign adversary.

Moultrie went on to highlight the delicate balance that must be struck between sharing information to build public trust and the information that must not be shared in order to protect national security. While the first hour and thirty minutes on the subject was an open hearing, this was followed by a classified meeting on the subject.

Another witness at the meeting was Scott Bray, the Deputy Director of Navy Intelligence. He noted the increasing number of reports of UAPs at Naval training ranges and cited a number of potential of causes for this increase in reports. Among the reasons for the report, he cited the increasing number of quadcopters and air clutter, such as mylar balloons, as well as increased sensing capabilities. He noted the changes to a fact and data-driven understanding of UAPs.

In the early stages, the task force worked to standardize the reporting mechanisms and processes, to make it as easy as possible for personnel to report any engagement, so we were getting that wide range of reporting that we needed. We also spent considerable time engaging directly with our Naval Aviators, and building relationship to help destigmatize the act of reporting sightings or encounters.

Newly released videos of UFOs

Screenshot of Navy video of flashing triangle. 19:52 in the video below.

These efforts have resulted in more reports and data, as well as an understanding of the extreme variety of the encounters, varying in length, observation method, and number of people that observer it – “in short, there’s rarely an easy answer.”

Bray then showed the first video (18:15 in the video below), and he noted that the limited amount of good data makes it hard to classify. When they are identified, the UAP would fall into one of the following categories: airborne clutter, natural asmosphereic phenomena, US Government or US industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, or ‘other.’

Last year, there were just over 140 reports of UAPs and now that number is up to 400 – though notably many of those new reports are “historic, narrative reports” so the amount of new video or photos in existence may be much more limited.

Drones explain atleast two UAP sightings

Two of instances demonstrated a similar UAP, with a triangular flashing light, taken several years apart.

Image of triangular UAP. 21:04 in the video below.

We are now reasonably confident that these triangles correlate to unmanned aerial systems [drones] in the area. The triangular appearance is the result of light passing through the night vision goggles and then being recorded by an SLR camera.

Bray then explained that it was only through the multiple instances of similar effect that this conclusion was able to be reached while also acknowledging that not all effects can be explained.

Understanding can take significant time and effort – it’s why we’ve endeavored to concentrate on this data-driven process to drive fact based results. And given the nature of our business, National defense, we’ve had to sometimes be less forthcoming with information in open forums than many would hope. If UAP do indeed represent a potential threat to our security, then the capabilities, systems, processes, and sources we use to observe, record, study, or analyze these phenomena need to be classified at appropriate levels.

Full hearing on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena

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