The U.S. government reported that it had found no evidence of aliens but did acknowledge 143 reports about "unidentified aerial phenomenon" dating back to 2004. This could not be explained.
With significant input from the military, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the report. This study is the culmination of decades of speculation, rumor, and unhinged conspiracy theories regarding UFOs.
The most fascinating cases are those of Navy pilots who saw UFOs and filmed them off the East Coast of America over several months in 2014.
Pilots, some of whom have spoken out publicly, claim that the mysterious objects moved at a speed, agility, and acceleration they've never witnessed before. In some cases, pilots even claimed that the objects were submerged.
This report was required by Congress. It shows an increase in government officials' willingness to talk about UFOs without fear or ridicule.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio pushed for the study. He stated that while the report was an important first step towards cataloguing these incidents, it is only a first step. Before we can determine whether these threats are a serious national security threat, the Defense Department and the intelligence community will have to do a lot more.
Recent rise in sightings
Many of these unexplained sights are a result of formal reporting procedures by the Navy and Air Force in the last two years.
To avoid UFOs and the stigma associated with discussing them, the government uses the term "unusual air phenomena" instead.
The report did note that there is not enough high-quality reporting about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), which hinders our ability draw solid conclusions.
Although the report did not offer many solutions, it offered a variety of options.
The UFOs or UAPs could be part of secret U.S. government projects or military projects, but it did not mention any.
They could also be part of a secret program in another country with advanced air capabilities like Russia or China. However, the report did not provide any evidence to support this possibility.
The report's main contents were leaked to the media in large numbers earlier this month. Few minds will be changed.
UFO skeptics will likely be strengthened by the report, which confirms their suspicions that UFOs occasionally whizz past, but does not send a clear message.
UFO enthusiasts will be able to use the acknowledgement of many unexplained objects in the report to call for additional resources to investigate the matter.
After funding was included in the massive spending bill passed by Congress late last fiscal year, which mainly focused on COVID relief, U.S. intelligence agencies were and military required to produce this report.
The bill was signed by former President Donald Trump Dec. 27. This gave the Office of the Director of National Intelligence 120 days to prepare the report and submit it to Congress.
How it all began
NPR's Bill Chappell pointed out earlier in the month that Roswell, New Mexico was the true starting point for UFO speculation and possible government involvement. UFO believers believe that this was when the U.S. Air Force allegedly seized an alien spacecraft with its occupants.
Actually An Air Force balloon meant for spying on Soviet Union's nuclear program crashed at Roswell during a test flight. The Air Force quickly cleared the site of the crash and refused to discuss Project Mogul, a clandestine program.
But UFO conspiracy theories that were launched by this incident are still alive and well to this day.
In 1947, the Air Force started its own program to investigate UFO sightings. It was called Project Blue Book. Over the next 20 years, 12,618 sightings would be reported. According to the National Archives, 700 sightings were left unidentified after the project was ended in 1969.
In the meantime, the faithful and the curious continue to make the trek up to Roswell.
Recent years have seen a greater willingness to discuss the subject by current and former officials of government.
In May, former President Barack Obama was interviewed on CBS's "The Late Late Show With James Corden" about UFOs.
Obama stated, "What is truth, and I'm actually serious here, it is that there are footage and records of objects that we don’t know the exact nature of,"