Over the past five years, military pilots have reported a growing number of UFOs in the skies but often found their reports to superiors falling on deaf ears. Perhaps understandably so, as sightings of UFO are usually the domain of cranks and conspiracy theorists, not straight-laced military types.
However, the increasing number of reports since 2014 has led some arms of the military to change their tune. The US Navy has now confirmed it is formalizing its reporting process for unidentified flying objects (UFOs), or “unexplained aerial phenomena" (UAP) as they call them.
“There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years," the Navy said in a statement issued to POLITICO.
"For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the [US Air Force] takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report. As part of this effort, the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities."
Let’s be clear: a UFO or UAP doesn’t necessarily mean a little green guy in a flying saucer. The acronyms are quite literal, meaning any flying object that can not be identified or authorized, whether it’s an enemy jet, an unregistered private plane, a shooting star, a kid with a drone, or the Millenium Falcon.
Sightings of UFOs, in most cases, have a relatively banal explanation. Nevertheless, it’s certainly important to keep an open mind. In 2017, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon set aside up to $22 million on a shadowy program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program to analyze “anomalous aerospace threats.”
Although there has been some effort to keep tabs on the issue of unauthorized aerial sightings, former intelligence staff often worry there is a very closed culture in the Pentagon regarding UAPs that helps breed conspiracy theories. On the other hand, some former officials insist the military should keep a more open mind about reported sightings.
“Imagine you see highly advanced vehicles, they appear on radar systems, they look bizarre, no one knows where they’re from. This happens on a recurring basis, and no one does anything,” Chris Mellon, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence for the Clinton and Bush Administrations, told The Washington Post.
Mellon, who now works for To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, the company owned by Tom Delonge, former Blink 182 co-frontman and extra-terrestrial enthusiast, argues that many pilots have hushed up their stories of UFOs out of fear the reports will simply be laughed at or could even damage their careers. “Pilots are upset, and they’re trying to help wake up a slumbering system,” he said.
With this new procedure in place, it’s hoped the reporting process will become easier and more open for everybody.