A declassified version of the latest US defence-intelligence report on UFOs – rebranded in official government parlance as "unidentified aerial phenomena" – is expected to be made public in the coming days.
But UFO enthusiasts hoping for the government to judge any of the hundreds of US military sightings under scrutiny as visits by extraterrestrial spacecraft are likely to be disappointed.
The most recent incidents under review are attributed to a mix of foreign surveillance, including relatively ordinary drone flights, and airborne clutter such as weather balloons, The New York Times reported last week, citing US officials familiar with a classified analysis that was due for delivery to Congress on Monday, Oct 31.
Many of an older set of unexplained aerial phenomena, or UAPs, are still officially categorised as unexplained, with too little data analysis to draw conclusions, the Times said.
"There is no single explanation that addresses the majority of UAP reports," US Defence Department spokesperson Sue Gough said in a statement this week. "We are collecting as much data as we can, following the data where it leads, and will share our findings whenever possible."
She said US government must take care to avoid revealing to foreign adversaries "sensitive information" about what American intelligence knows about their surveillance operations, and how that information is known.
It remains to be seen what the UAP report says, if anything, about whether any of the phenomena might be of alien origin or even some kind of highly advanced, hypersonic spy craft flown by foreign adversaries.
A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the agency responsible for submitting UAP assessments to Capitol Hill, declined to comment on the contents of the report.
The intelligence office performs its analysis in conjunction with a newly created Pentagon bureau known as AARO, short for the cryptically named All Domain Anomaly Resolution Office.
The first such defence-intelligence UAP report to Congress in June 2021 looked at 144 sightings by US military aviators dating back to 2004, most of them documented with multiple instruments.
That study attributed one incident to a large, deflating balloon, but found the rest to be beyond the government's ability to explain without further analysis.
Senior defence intelligence officials testified to Congress in May of this year that the number of UAPs officially cataloged by the Pentagon's newly formed task force had grown to 400.
At that time, they said analysts lacked any evidence suggesting any of the sightings were of alien spacecraft, but most of the UAP reports remained unresolved.
Among those were videos released by the Pentagon of enigmatic airborne objects observed by Navy pilots exhibiting speed and manoeuvrability exceeding known aviation technology, and lacking any visible means of propulsion or flight control surfaces.
"In many cases, observed phenomena are classified as 'unidentified' simply because sensors were not able to collect enough information to make a positive attribution," Gough said.
"We are working to mitigate these shortfalls for the future and to ensure we have sufficient data for our analysis."
The forthcoming release of the latest Pentagon assessment comes after a first-of-its-kind panel organised by NASA opened a separate, parallel study on Oct 24 of unclassified UFO sightings data from civilian government and commercial sectors.
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