US’ fascination with UFOs: Why Department of Defence is looking at various UFO sightings and what the report says

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June 29, 2021 4:47 PM

UFOs have always been a fascinating topic for people in the US, with the concept of “flying saucers” being around in popular culture since the 1940s-50s.

Videos taken by US Navy and Air Force show some unidentified objects traveling at a fast speed, without any propulsion at that. (Representational image: IE)

UFOs and the US: Recently, the government of the US has released an unclassified report assessing the threat from Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), which is more commonly known as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) in popular culture. The report also talks about the progress of the Department of Defence (DoD) Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF) in terms of the understanding of that threat, according to a report in IE. The report has largely been inconclusive, however, even as it looked at instances of apparent UFO sightings between November 2004 and March 2021. These sightings are not necessarily those of UFOs, there is no evidence to support that, but the government also does not have any other explanation as to what these sightings were.

This had also been reiterated by former US President Barack Obama on a late night talk show, during which he said that there was evidence of objects in the sky and they did not exactly know what they were.

UFOs have always been a fascinating topic for people in the US, with the concept of “flying saucers” being around in popular culture since the 1940s-50s. Numerous movies have been made showcasing alien civilisations from the Moon and Mars linked to these flying saucers. Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film ET the Extra-Terrestrial is based around this concept, and so is 1951 film The Day The Earth Stood Still. More recently, 2016 film Arrival has also been made around a similar concept. This is not limited to films only, however. Warner Bros’ cartoon Looney Toons also had an animated extraterrestrial character – Marvin the Martian.

What’s more is that the fascination of people in the US with UFOs and their alleged links with extraterrestrial beings has also transpired into real life. A group of about 20 lakh people in September 2019 joined an event on Facebook the purpose of which was to storm the heavily guarded US Air Force Facility Area 51, which has been the subject of many conspiracy theories due to the secrecy maintained around it. Many Americans are convinced that this area is guarded and secretive because the government is hiding the bodies of extraterrestrial beings as well as UFOs here, and this is also the place where the authorities hold meetings with aliens.

In fact, a 2019 poll, the report said, had found that about two-thirds of Americans were of the opinion that the US government knew more about the UFOs than it let on, and about one-third Americans believed the UFO sightings to be those of actual alien spacecrafts. Meanwhile, 60% of people also thought that human activities or natural phenomena might be able to explain these sightings. About one-sixth people also claimed to have personally witnessed what they believed to be a UFO.

As far as the view of the scientific community on aliens is concerned, US space agency NASA has acknowledged the possibility of there being life on other planets, with one of its goals being to look for such life. There is, however, no credible evidence to back that as yet. The agency has also not been actively looking for UAPs so far.

The establishment of the UAPTF had been authorised in August last year by Deputy Secretary of Defense David L Norquist to understand the nature as well as the origin of these mysterious sightings over the recent years, many of which were occurring near US military and air bases, indicating a threat that the government could not take lightly.

Videos taken by US Navy and Air Force show some unidentified objects traveling at a fast speed, without any propulsion at that, and some other objects can be seen performing inexplicable aerial maneuvers. Thus, these UAPs were thought to be a threat to national security, making it a priority for the government to dig deeper into these sightings.

The report released now by the DoD has acknowledged mysterious sightings of various UAPs between 2004 and 2021, and the department has only been able to explain one of the 144 sightings that the report looked at – it is thought to be an airborne clutter. The report has thus concluded that these UAPs pose a safety issue for the US. The report also noted that the limited data is so far inconclusive, but there have been some patterns, like the UAP observations that can be clustered on the basis of propulsion, shape and size, with most of these sightings being around training and testing grounds in the US. Advanced technology, moreover, was demonstrated only in about 18 UAPs.

The report added that there would probably not be just a single explanation to explain all of these sightings, but said that broadly, it could be due to airborne clutter like birds, balloons, airborne debris or recreational unmanned aerial vehicles. They could also be natural phenomena of the atmosphere, the report said, like moisture and ice crystals, foreign adversary systems and industrial development programmes.

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