The U.S. Navy has confirmed that several recent photos and videos of UFOs—unidentified flying objects—are authentic.
But the operative word is “unidentified”—if you ever proved that one of these objects was on a sightseeing trip from another part of the galaxy, that would count as identifying it.
The Department of Defense (DOD) will say that the images were in fact captured by military personnel, and presumably haven’t been altered. Science Alert, citing declassified document site The Black Vault, notes that the Pentagon prefers the initialism UAP, for unidentified aerial phenomenon. If less catchy than UFO—a term by now freighted with potentially discussion-ending connotations—UAP does have the advantage of leaving open the possibility that something other than an object, such as a lens flare, created the image.
The images include several taken by the weapons systems officer aboard an F-18 on March 4, 2019, dubbed “The Sphere,” “The Acorn,” and “The Metal Blimp.”
According to Science Alert, footage from the Navy’s UAP investigations has been circulating at least since 2017, when the New York Times first reported on it, attributing a group called To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences. Science Alert notes that at the time, the videos were believed to be declassified, although apparently they had actually been leaked.
Additional footage has since come to light, and Navy pilots are now encouraged to report sightings—internally, not to the public.
The video clips shared widely last week, reported by Jeremy Corbell of Extraordinary Beliefs and George Knapp of Mystery Wire, are allegedly sourced from a leak following a confidential military review of material in May 2020.
In August 2020, the Navy formed the UAP Task Force (UAPTF).
Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough, issued a statement to Mystery Wire that “to maintain operations security and to avoid disclosing information that may be useful to potential adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examinations of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP.”
The Black Vault notes that Gough would neither confirm nor deny whether the military had subsequently identified the UAPs in question. That does leave open the possibilities that the technology could come from a rival military power, or, just maybe, from outer space.
According to NBC’s Today, the Pentagon is expected to release a UAP report this summer.