Pentagon’s ‘UFO’ tracking efforts focus of Senate hearing

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(WASHINGTON) — In a rare open hearing, lawmakers on Wednesday are set to question the head of the Pentagon’s office charged with tracking UFOs — or what the Defense Department calls unexplained anomalous phenomena (UAP).

The director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, Sean M. Kirkpatrick, will testify before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on the AARO’s mission and budget, with some senators expressing concerns over whether the Pentagon’s effort is getting adequately funded.

This is only the second recent hearing on the subject — following the first one in more than 50 years happening last May.

The ongoing review by the U.S. intelligence community and the Pentagon of hundreds of UAP incidents reported by military personnel was one of the techniques that helped identify that China was carrying out a foreign surveillance program using balloons, a U.S. official said in February.

That review of UAP incidents in recent years, required by congressional legislation, helped inform the identification process of the threat posed by China’s balloon program and how it was being done according to the official.

The U.S. intelligence community said in January that the number of UFO reports involving U.S. military personnel is increasing, “enabling a greater awareness of the airspace and increased opportunity to resolve” what is actually being reported.

Roughly half of the new incidents reported in the report had terrestrial explanations, the report said.

The increase in reporting is being partially attributed to the continuing effort to destigmatize the reporting of such incidents and to focus on the potential safety risks they could pose to U.S. personnel.

The report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that since its first June 2021 unclassified report on what are now called Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs), it is now aware of 510 such reports.

That is significantly more than the 144 incidents reviewed in the initial report, only one of which could be explained.

The report said the Pentagon’s new office looking at UAP reports has looked at 366 new reported incidents and initially determined that about half of them have “unremarkable characteristics.”

Twenty-six are being attributed to drones, 163 are characterized as balloons or balloon-like entities, and six are attributed to clutter.

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