The US government is receiving dozens of reports of unidentified anomalous phenomena, more commonly known as UFOs, each month, according to the director of the office established to investigate the incidents, with the potential for “hundreds, if not thousands” more reports expected in the near future.
The office has received approximately 800 reports of unidentified objects to investigate as of this past April, up from 650 reports in August 2022, Sean Kirkpatrick, who heads the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office at the Pentagon told CNN.
The vast majority are benign objects, such as balloons or drones, but some may be the result of America’s adversaries trying to spy on the US, said Kirkpatrick.
“There are some indicators that are concerning that may be attributed to foreign activity, and we are investigating those very hard,” said Kirkpatrick, speaking exclusively to CNN ahead of the release of the annual report on unidentified aerial phenomena.
A portion of the increase in reports comes from the Federal Aviation Administration, which monitors airspace around US airports starting to provide information to the Pentagon.
About half of the reports contain enough data that they can be ruled out as “mundane things,” such as errant balloons or floating trash, Kirkpatrick said, but 2-4% are truly anomalous and require further investigation.
Kirkpatrick’s office has transferred “a lot” of cases to law enforcement for further investigation and, if necessary, counterintelligence. But some sightings could potentially be foreign adversaries spying on the United States, like the Chinese spy balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina in February.
Asked if the Pentagon could definitively identify a sighting of an unidentified object as belonging to a foreign adversary, Kirkpatrick said that his office is “looking at some very interesting indicators of things, and that’s about all I can tell you.” But the office, which has more than 40 employees and is expected to grow, can’t say that for sure yet.
“There are ways to hide in our noise that always concern me,” Kirkpatrick said, referring to the extraneous readings picked up by US radars and other sensors. “I am worried from a national security perspective.”
But Kirkpatrick could offer few details about why certain reports raised suspicions about foreign involvement.
“It could just be a foreign entity. It could be a hobbyist. It could be anybody,” he said. “And those are the things that we have to look into.”
Huge public interest in UFOs
Ever since the Biden administration established a formal office to investigate reports of UAPs, the subject has garnered massive public attention, fueled by its inextricable link to UFO sightings. A July hearing in Congress on the matter drove the interest even higher, as David Grusch, a former Air Force intelligence officer, alleged that the government has covered up its research into the sightings, a claim Kirkpatrick flatly denied.
But Grusch went much further, even as he acknowledged that he had no first-hand knowledge and was only told things by others, asserting that the US government had unidentified alien objects in its possession and the “non-human” pilots of the craft.
Kirkpatrick dismissed the sensational claims, saying he has “no evidence that suggests anything extraterrestrial in nature.”
“If anybody thinks that they know where those things are, they should be coming to talk to us,” said Kirkpatrick. “That’s why we have set up this entire architecture for people to securely come in and talk to us.”
New submissions from public
The Pentagon is preparing for a flood of new reports as it readies two new portals for submissions: one for historical sightings from current or former government employees and contractors and a second for public submissions of new reports.
The portal for historical sightings is set to open sometime in the next month or so, Kirkpatrick told CNN. Its purpose is to validate or refute past reports of unidentified objects, checking them against other reports and cataloging them for possible further analysis.
It is the opening of the public portal, still several months away, that Kirkpatrick says could flood the system with “hundreds, if not thousands” of new reports to sort through. Even so, Kirkpatrick has a plan for his office, which involves a system that will automatically match known objects to public reports, allowing the government to dismiss sightings of identified bodies. But the reports of unknown objects could prove to be valuable, Kirkpatrick says.
“If it’s a foreign adversary and I got 100,000 people with cell phones who can collect it, well now it makes it really hard for the foreign adversary to do anything,” Kirkpatrick says.
Asked if the US government should have created an effort to handle unidentified objects earlier, Kirkpatrick demurred. He said the new office came “probably at the right time for the right reasons.” But in an acknowledgment of the interest and the mystery of the subject matter, he added, “I think the government as a whole – that includes Congress – should have probably addressed some of this years ago in a more directed fashion.”