The U.S. Navy is drafting new guidelines for pilots and other personnel to report encounters with “unidentified aircraft,” a significant new step in creating a formal process to collect and analyze the unexplained sightings — and destigmatize them.
The previously unreported move is in response to a series of sightings of unknown, highly advanced aircraft intruding on Navy strike groups and other sensitive military formations and facilities, the service says.
“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 in response to questions from POLITICO. “For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the [U.S. Air Force] takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report.
“As part of this effort,” it added, “the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities. A new message to the fleet that will detail the steps for reporting is in draft.”
To be clear, the Navy isn’t endorsing the idea that its sailors have encountered alien spacecraft. But it is acknowledging there have been enough strange aerial sightings by credible and highly trained military personnel that they need to be recorded in the official record and studied — rather than dismissed as some kooky phenomena from the realm of science-fiction.
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Chris Mellon, a former Pentagon intelligence official and ex-staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said establishing a more formal means of reporting what the military now calls “unexplained aerial phenomena” — rather than “unidentified flying objects” — would be a “sea change.”
“Right now, we have situation in which UFOs and UAPs are treated as anomalies to be ignored rather than anomalies to be explored,” he said. “We have systems that exclude that information and dump it.”
For example, Mellon said “in a lot of cases [military personnel] don’t know what to do with that information — like satellite data or a radar that sees something going Mach 3. They will dump [the data] because that is not a traditional aircraft or missile.”
The development comes amid growing interest from members of Congress following revelations by POLITICO and the New York Times in late 2017 that the Pentagon established a dedicated office inside the Defense Intelligence Agency to study UAPs at the urging of several senators who secretly set aside appropriations for the effort.
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