The Pentagon may never get to the bottom of that famous UFO video
The DOD’s office is creating a way for former government employees to reach out with information about UFOs.
The Pentagon’s office to explore unidentified aerial phenomena may never get to the bottom of some of the most famous sightings, due to a lack of data. But it hopes a new reporting mechanism will help.
The head of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, or AARO, said Tuesday that the office has to focus on the newest sightings first, not necessarily the ones that are the most prevalent in the public mind.
“The way we investigate cases we really prioritize more of the operational ones from today than we do going backwards in time, and the reason for that is there is no supporting data to actually analyze,” Sean Kirkpatrick, the head of the AARO office told reporters.
Kirkpatrick was referring toa now widely-seen 2004 video taken from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet flying off the coast of San Diego. The December 2017 New York Times article featuring the video represents the moment the public and the government went from treating UFOs like fringe conspiracy theory to describing them as an urgent concern requiring lawmaker oversight and a whole new Pentagon investigatory office.
In that article, U.S. Navy pilots describe witnessing and recording video of mysterious objects that seemed to behave in ways that defied the laws of physics. Shortly after publication, more troops came forward to report their own experiences with unidentified aerial phenomena. The public and lawmakers wanted to know what was behind the phenomena, and whether it poses a threat to pilots or the military. That led to the creating of the Navy’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, which became the DOD Airborne Object Identification and Management Group and then, in 2022, AARO.
The office was looking at more than 650 cases as of this spring, Kirkpatrick testified in April. But most of them have a fairly easy explanation, he said, like balloons. And even with the more mysterious ones, Kirkpatrick said he still doesn’t see any sign of anything like extraterrestrial life.
As for that famous 2004 video, he said the AARO doesn’t know much more than anyone else.
“There's no other data behind it. So understanding what that is off of that one video is unlikely to occur—whereas today we have a lot of data where somebody sees something, there's gonna be a lot more data associated with it that we can pull out, radar data, and optical data, and [infrared] data.”
That’s one reason the Department of Defense issued new guidance to services and combatant commands about retaining data.
“The way data is handled on these platforms is they don't they don't retain them at all, ever. I mean, they retain them for 24 hours usually if there was an incident on the platform, like there was a malfunction,” Kirkpatrick said.
To overcome that data deficit, the announced Tuesday that it opened a secure online reporting mechanism, so former government and military employees with knowledge of previous programs that could be related to UAPs can report them to the office securely and not face retribution.