The strange objects in US airspace may be a bigger issue than they were originally thought to be
Seeing Unidentified UAPs: Reports of Unknown Sightings at the Pentagon in 2021, and the Pentagon Constraints
There were 171 unidentified object sightings, however, for which no explanation was found, and some of those objects “demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities.”
Ronald Moultrie said that they’ve seen nothing that would prompt them to believe that any of the objects they’ve seen are alien.
The director of the effort said that they have received hundreds of reports of unidentified objects to examine and that some go back years. Those cases are on top of the initial 144 examined in the June 2021 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Neither official would say how many of the cases had been analyzed and resolved. But Moultrie, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon Friday, said many of these cases would not be considered dangerous and may end up being “things like balloons and things like UAVs that are operated for purposes other than surveillance or intelligence collection.”
Still, when asked if any of the reports were indicative of something that may pose a threat to national security, to a military facility or to US personnel, Kirkpatrick answered, “Yes.”
“In the absence of being able to resolve what something is, we assume that it may be hostile, so, we have to take that seriously,” said Moultrie, expanding on the considerations.
One of the big issues the Pentagon faced as it began to look more seriously at the issues of UAPs was the stigma around reporting. The stigma associated with reporting seeing someone has been reduced.
Detection of Unexplained Events with a Data Science Platform: The Case of a Strange Light Darting Around the Sky
The House Intelligence Committee was told in May by Scott Bray that their database had grown to 400 reports since the June 2021, report. The reports keep coming in.
“There’s not a single answer for all of this, right?” Kirkpatrick rhetorically asked Friday. I have to sort out all of the hundreds of cases that go to which things since there are so many different answers.
A startup wants to use data science to investigate unexplained phenomena. Previously, people who had seen strange lights darting around the sky could do no more than tell their friends—or call intelligence agencies. Soon anyone with a smartphone will be able to use an app to report unexplained occurrences.
“At our core, we’re a data science company. Mark Douglas, COO of the New York–based company says they are building the first data and community platform dedicated to the study of unexplained phenomena.
Government agencies have always been interested in reports of UFOs for national security reasons, since sightings of flying saucers might actually be sightings of a rival’s secret aircraft. (Or, if the craft was actually the nation’s own classified project, descriptions of the sighting might reveal how it appears to others.)
It is a unique challenge to identify an object or phenomenon that has never been seen before. The questions that the app asks users are structured and related to when and where the user saw the object in the sky. It gives them an opportunity to tell their story and provide more information, and they can also submit a photo or video. In this case, volunteers submit images to the project and it’s done by computers, much like in the citizen science projects.
The company wants to apply their models to rule out things that are not UAPs, such as unclassified aircraft, by determining whether there is lightning nearby. And they want to filter the credibility of the data sources as well, distinguishing between “highly credible military pilots, trained observers with corroboration from multiple sensors, and then at the opposite end of spectrum … a single witness who maybe had a few drinks too many and saw a point of light in a sky,” Douglas says.
UFO Sightings: How Do Germans Look at the Cosmos? Commentary of Peter Bergen, a Public Scientist at Arizona State University
The challenge is applying scientific standards to something that may be not scientific at all. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and people interpret what they see based on factors like current events and their scientific, political, and cultural backgrounds. “The data you’re getting is socially constructed,” says University of Pennsylvania historian Kate Dorsch, who specializes in scientific knowledge production.
UFO sightings began as an American obsession following World War II and the Roswell incident in 1947, when people in New Mexico found mysterious debris that may (or may not) have come from a crashed military balloon. Sightings quickly spread across most of the world, Dorsch says, and interest in Roswell, as well as the US’s and USSR’s nascent space programs, may have encouraged people to think of lights in the sky as alien technology. But, she continues, there were fewer UFO sightings after the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957—when people saw something weird in the sky, they chalked it up as a human-made spacecraft. And the geopolitics of where you live matters, too. Today, she says, when Germans witness strange phenomena, they often attribute them to Russian and American-made craft. She says that when you’re looking for something specific, you’ll see it.
Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America, and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. There are more opinions on CNN.
And it reminded me that when my father, Tom Bergen, was a lieutenant in the US Air Force in the mid-1950s, he worked on a program to help send balloons into Soviet airspace.
In 1954 he was assigned to Headquarters Air Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. There he worked on the “Grand Union” project, which deployed balloons that carried cameras over the then-Soviet Union. Those spy balloons were launched from Turkey.
The program my dad worked on was a secret, but has been declassified for almost seven decades.
Did China Drop the F-35 Hacker Report? Why the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office Describes an Overflight by a New Spy Balloon?
Spy balloons do offer some advantages over satellites; they are relatively inexpensive and can be more maneuverable. The US military is certainly worthwhile in continuing to look for Chinese balloons or spy drones.
Now the United States and its rivals have these new-fangled gizmos called “spy satellites,” which can take photos! They can do a video in full- motion. They can take thermal imagery in order to detect individuals at night. They can spy on almost anything, with a resolution of centimeters, when the skies are clear.
You can now buy close-up images of a Russian battle group in Ukraine from your own camera, because commercial satellite imagery is so cheap. Just ask Maxar Technologies; they have built up a rather profitable business on this model, which was just acquired two months ago for $6 billion by a private equity firm.
A bunch of Republican politicians have implied that the overflight of US territory by a Chinese balloon is not a national security catastrophe.
But it may help explain, at least in part, an element of a little-noticed report published by the US Office of Director of National Intelligence last month.
This raises some interesting questions about the work of the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office: Could some of the balloons they identified be from China? Some of the 171 unexplained reports of unidentified flying objects could possibly be Chinese balloons.
China has done worse. US officials have accused it of benefiting from the work of hackers who stole design data about the F-35 fighter aircraft as China builds its own new generation of fighters, and sucking up more than 20 million Americans’ personal information when they were current or former members of the US government. China called the F-35 theft report “baseless” and denied responsibility for the OPM hacking.
Roughly half a dozen of those flights have been within the US airspace, according to one official familiar with the intelligence.
One official and another person familiar with the intelligence said that some of the balloons seen around the globe were different from the one that fell in South Carolina. These people said there are multiple variations.
The Washington Post reported that the link to the broader program was uncovered before the balloon was spotted.
The intelligence community will be interested to learn if the Chinese balloon has any resemblance to technology used by the US intelligence community and military, as the Chinese government has been aggressive in stealing American defense secrets.
The US – using some technical capabilities provided by National Security Agency among other agencies – has already gathered some real-time information on what kinds of signals the balloon was emitting as it traveled, according to one defense official.
Defense officials say that the US gleaned important clues to the answers of some of these questions while the balloon was transiting the United States.
China maintains the vessel downed by the US was a weather balloon thrown off course but did offer a rare expression of “regret” over it in a statement Friday.
But multiple defense officials and other sources briefed on the intelligence say the Chinese explanation isn’t credible and have described the balloon’s path as intentional.
This elite team consists of agents, analysts, engineers and scientists, who are responsible for both creating technical surveillance measures and analyzing those of the US’ adversaries.
OTD personnel are responsible for the construction of surveillance devices used by the FBI and intelligence community personnel, but also for managing court-authorized data collection and defeating foreign intel agencies attempting to penetrate the US.
But, according to one member of the House Intelligence Committee, “there’s number of reasons why we wouldn’t do that. We want to collect off it, you want to see where it’s going and what it’s doing.
The US has procedures that protect sensitive locations from being seen by overhead drones, which are used for overflight.
The Biden-Alaska Military Down: The First Airborne Interaction Between a High-Altitude Object and a Chinese Spy Balloon
President Joe Biden told CNN that the shoot down a “high-altitude object” hovering over Alaska on Friday “was a success,” shortly after American national security officials disclosed that the commander-in-chief gave the US military approval to take the action.
The incident marked the second time American fighter jets have taken down an object flying over US airspace in a little less than a week after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina last Saturday.
John Kirby, National Security Council coordinate for strategic communications, told the press on Friday that the Department of Defense was following an object over Alaska airspace.
Ryder said that the Defense Department had no details about the object’s “capabilities, purpose or origin.” He added the object posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight, noting that “the object was about the size of a small car, so not similar in size or shape to the high altitude surveillance balloon that was taken down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.”
There were two efforts to get closer to the object and evaluate it as it flew. Fighter aircraft made their first engagement late Thursday night and then again early Friday. Kirby told reporters that both engagements yielded limited information.
Kirby explained that they were able to get some fighter aircrafts up and around it before the order to shoot it down.
Biden, at the recommendation of the Pentagon, ordered the military “to down the object and they did,” Kirby added. The object came inside territorial airspace and was brought down by fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command. It went down over frozen Arctic Ocean waters near the Canadian border and northeastern Alaska. The US is expecting to recover the debris.
The operation was coordinated by the US Northern Command’s Alaska Command, which received assistance from the Alaska Air National Guard, Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI.
The Deadhorse Object: A Candidate Chinese Spy Balloon and Its Implications for the UFOs
The best description we have is that which we are calling an object. We don’t know who owns it – whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately-owned, we just don’t know,” Kirby said.
The object came to the US government’s attention last night. Biden was first briefed Thursday night “as soon as the Pentagon had enough information,” Kirby said.
The object “did not appear to be self-maneuvering, and therefore, (was) at the mercy of prevailing winds,” making it “much less predictable,” said Kirby.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction Friday in the area around Deadhorse, Alaska, as the military took action against the object.
The Biden administration has faced questions over its handling of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that floated across the nation last week before being shot down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday.
The president has stood by the way he and his administration handled the balloon, but has come under fire from Republicans for allowing it to fly over the country before shooting it down.
This is part of a relatively new push by Congress and the Pentagon to make sense of more than 500 credible UFO sightings over the past couple of decades.
Congress should convene hearings to get to the bottom of this. The public has a right to understand why objects are flying around in American airspace that the Pentagon and the US intelligence community can’t identify.