Newly released "hazard reports" detailing encounters between US Navy aircraft and "unidentified aerial phenomena" reveal details about incidents that were thrust into the spotlight when the Pentagon officially declassified and released videos of three encounters late last month.
Objects could be drones
The truth is out there
New task force
Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced the creation of a task force to analyze and understand the "nature and origins" of UAPs. The Department of the Navy, under the cognizance of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, will lead the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF).
But before you set up greeting signs and start tossing out welcome mats for the incoming aliens, a little perspective and context are in order. I asked some UFO specialists what they thought of the newly announced task force.
Reasons for the DoD to care
There are many non-extraterrestrial reasons why the Defense Department is interested in UFO reports, Oberg said.
- First, to identify and ameliorate instrumental "funnies" in new sensory technology, to make sure we don't accidentally misinterpret or overlook future readings.
- Second, to determine how detection "funnies" might be deliberately induced by hackers and real enemies, and what we can do to frustrate such efforts.
- Third, to deliberately induce anomalous targets into the range of our own new detection/tracking technology, as a way of testing it.
- Fourth, to test enemy detection systems with deliberate pokes to identify exploitable weaknesses.
- Fifth, to assess which reports from within or near adversary nations are indicators of their classified military testing and operations that we need insight into.
- Sixth, to determine which detections (at home or abroad) accidentally reveal highly classified operations of our own that might be revealed to enemy nations that are also looking for such indications, so as to improve our masking, misdirection and stealth.
- Seventh, in so far as observations of UFO reports from adversary nations are indicators of leaked observable clues to military capabilities, to do nothing to provoke such regimes from curtailing their own news media coverage of the "pseudo-UFOs." Never announce how such innocent (to them) news items can be exploited.
- Eighth, in so far as our own domestic UFO reports may be authentic indicators of classified military activities, to purposefully create camouflage and masking reports to distract, confuse or lull foreign observers and analysts.
"Perceptive observers of the UFO scene over the last two-thirds of a century have noted a telltale feature of the evolution of reports," Oberg said. "Their nature has been changing, keeping uncanny pace with the progress in human observation and detection technologies."
Oberg added that, year by year, the "old UFOs" fade away just before the advent of new technologies that would have unambiguously documented them come online, to be replaced by a new flavor of "anomalies" that precisely match the limits of vision of new technologies.
Not open-ended and ongoing
In the military, a task force is something that is put together to deal with a specific situation or problem, Sheaffer said. It is expected to produce a report and recommendations concerning that issue and is disbanded when such work is complete.
"So, this is not something open-ended and ongoing, like Project Blue Book. It does not suggest an ongoing government interest in unidentified objects," Sheaffer observed. Conducted by the United States Air Force, Project Blue Book appraised the UFO situation starting in 1952 and officially closed down in 1970.
Intruding into their sandbox
Last week's three-paragraph DoD release, Scoles added, uses language similar to that of other, previous statements about UAPs. For example, a September 2019 statement from Joseph Gradisher, spokesman for the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare defining "UAP," reads, "The 'Unidentified Aerial Phenomena' terminology is used because it provides the basic descriptor for the sightings/observations of unauthorized/unidentified aircraft/objects entering/operating in the airspace of various military-controlled training ranges."
Scoles said that "UAP" technically could include aircraft or objects that are simply unauthorized, as well as aircraft or objects that cannot be immediately identified. "That means that, if a pilot sees something they cannot explain, but someone else explains it a few hours later, it could still fall under the definition of UAP."
But, like all things UFO, Scoles concluded, "vague and somewhat weaselly wording leaves enough room for people to interpret this latest development very differently."