Watch Live: Pentagon officials testify on UFOs in rare House hearing

Washington — Congress is holding its first public hearing on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in more than half a century on Tuesday, with top Pentagon officials telling lawmakers that the U.S. government cannot identify dozens of objects reported by military pilots. 

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray are testifying at Tuesday’s hearing before a House subcommittee about how the Defense Department is organizing reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) — the military’s term for UFOs — after a congressionally mandated report released last year found most of the incidents analyzed remain unidentified. 

Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat of Indiana and the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism, and Counterproliferation chairman, opened the hearing by saying UAPs “are a potential 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. DOD officials relegated the issue to the backroom or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community,” Carson said. “Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it’s true. But they are real. They need to be investigated. And any threats they pose need to be mitigated.”

The report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force found no evidence to suggest the objects are extraterrestrial or from a foreign adversary — but the report also could not explain most of the objects. 

Investigators were able to identify one of the 144 reports analyzed in their study of unidentified objects “as a large, deflating balloon.” But the other 143 reports of UAP from 2004 to 2021 remain a mystery. 

There is little doubt that the unidentified objects are real objects, whatever they may be, because at least 80 of the 144 incidents were detected by multiple sensors, the report found. 

The finding in the report that demonstrates the need for further study is the one stating, “UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security.”

Bray showed lawmakers a video of one UAP observed by a Navy pilot in 2021, a “spherical object” that “quickly passes by the cockpit of the aircraft.” 

A screenshot of an unidentified aerial phenomenon filmed in 2021 by a U.S. Navy pilot.

Department of Defense

“I do not have an explanation for what this specific object is,” Bray said.

The Pentagon in recent years has confirmed the authenticity of several videos and images showing objects under investigation by the UAP Task Force. Last year, the Defense Department confirmed three images posted by MysteryWire and a video posted by a UFO filmmaker had been taken by Navy personnel. 

In 2020, the Pentagon released three videos — FLIR, GOFAST, and GIMBAL — showing encounters military aviators had with unidentified objects. The fighter pilots who witnessed the object in the FLIR video from 2004 spoke to “60 Minutes” last year about their experience. 

In November 2021, the Pentagon established the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG) to succeed the Navy’s UAP Task Force, with the intention of better coordinating the reporting and investigating incidents. 

The last public congressional hearing on UFOs was held in the 1960s before the disbandment of “Project Blue Book,” a U.S. Air Force program that investigated and analyzed reports of UFOs. The project lasted from 1947 to 1969 and was disbanded in part because the objects were found to pose no threat to national security, according to an Air Force fact sheet. 

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