UFO sightings are up, but no proof of aliens yet, Pentagon official says
He said that approximately half of the reports of “unidentified aerial phenomena” have been prioritized for further review and to examine if enough data is available to resolve the cases.
But Kirkpatrick cautioned that many cases may remain unresolved due to a lack of hard data. He estimated 20 to 30 cases are halfway through his office’s analytical process with “a handful” of cases that have been peer-reviewed and closed.
“I will not close a case that I cannot defend the conclusions of,” Kirkpatrick said.
During his testimony, Kirkpatrick showed videos of two recently declassified cases of unidentified objects observed by U.S. military drones to demonstrate AARO’s analytic process. The first video, showing an apparently spherical object observed in the Middle East in 2022, remains unresolved for lack of data. A second sighting from South Asia this year was resolved pending a peer review after AARO’s analysis determined the object to be a commercial aircraft.
The more than 650 cases is an increase from an unclassified annual report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in January. The DNI summary said 510 cases were cataloged through Aug. 30, 2022.
Concerns over incursions into U.S. airspace by unknown objects have gripped Washington in recent years, and Kirkpatrick’s office was established last July to spearhead the analysis of sightings. But he also sought to temper assertions that UFOs have a non-worldly explanation.
“I should also state clearly for the record that in our research, AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology or objects that defy the known laws of physics,” Kirkpatrick said.
“Only a very small percentage of UAP reports display signatures that could reasonably be described as anomalous,” he added. “The majority of unidentified objects reported to AARO demonstrated mundane characteristics of balloons, clutter, natural phenomena or other readily explainable sources.”
Kirkpatrick, however, made waves with a draft paper he co-authored with Harvard professor Avi Loeb last month that presents a theory that some recent objects that appear to defy physics could be “probes” from an extraterrestrial mothership.
No senators asked Kirkpatrick about the paper at Wednesday’s hearing, however.
Interest in his office spiked in February after a Chinese spy balloon traversed U.S. airspace, followed by shootdowns of several other unknown objects over U.S. and Canadian territory. Capitol Hill was also stirred up by revelations that previous Chinese balloons flew through U.S. airspace dating back to the Trump administration, but went undetected.
Pressed by the panel’s ranking Republican, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Kirkpatrick said his office hasn’t seen evidence that unexplained events under its purview were caused by Russian or Chinese technology, but pointed to “concerning indicators” that foreign capabilities could be at play.
“Are there capabilities that could be employed against us in both an [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and a weapons fashion? Absolutely,” Kirkpatrick said. “Do I have evidence that they’re doing it in these cases? No, but I have concerning indicators.”