Military pilots have recorded a total of 11 “near misses” with Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP), also known as UFOs, since 2004, according to a first-or-its-kind U.S. government report released on Friday.
The nine-page report (pdf), submitted to Congress and released to the public on June 25, studied 144 observations of what the government officially refers to as UAP, dating back to 2004, of which 11 caused “near misses” for military pilots.
The report was issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in conjunction with a U.S. Navy-led UAP task force, and cited the 11 “documented instances in which pilots reported near misses with a UAP” as examples of current “ongoing airspace concerns.” Aviators are required to report such concerns upon encountering safety hazards, it notes.
“UAP pose a hazard to safety of flight and could pose a broader danger if some instances represent sophisticated collection against U.S. military activities by a foreign government or demonstrate a breakthrough aerospace technology by a potential adversary,” the report reads.
It added, however, that defense and intelligence analysts lack sufficient data to determine the nature of UAP observed by military pilots, outlining that they could belong to explanatory categories such as foreign adversary systems, natural atmospheric phenomena, or “other,” amid the public speculations of extraterrestrial technology as a possible explanation in some cases.
“UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security,” the report stated, adding that the phenomena “probably lack a single explanation.”
“In a limited number of incidents, UAP reportedly appeared to exhibit unusual flight characteristics. These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis,” it added.
The Pentagon said its UAP Task Force was established last year “to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs.”
In the run up to the release of the report, the Pentagon confirmed that recent images of UAP were taken by U.S. Navy personnel.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said last month that members of Congress and other officials need to seriously investigate UFOs and the potential threat they pose.
Speaking to CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” the Florida Republican described a “stigma on Capitol Hill,” in which some lawmakers “are very interested in this topic,” but some “kind of giggle when you bring it up.” However, he cautioned, “I don’t think we can allow the stigma to keep us from having an answer to a very fundamental question.”
The senator said he wants the Pentagon to come up with a process to take UAP seriously.
“I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in,” he said. “That there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed, until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn’t.”
The CBS News program also interviewed former Navy Lt. Ryan Graves, who said that he has witnessed UAP flying over restricted areas “every day” for several years. Graves added that he’s worried they could pose a security threat, whatever they are.
Although the thought of UAP conjures images of aliens or saucer-shaped spacecraft, Graves suggested that these objects could be technology developed by Russia or the Chinese communist regime.
Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.