The Corner

National Security & Defense

UFO or Foe?

People visit the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nevada, September 19, 2019. (Jim Urquhart)

UFOs are back on legislators’ radar. What sounds like a tinfoil-hat topic has actually sparked debates among American national-security leaders.

On June 17th, The Senate Intelligence Committee presented the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 which included a provision for the centralized collection of information related to “unidentified aerial phenomenon.” The committee, chaired by Senator Rubio (R., Fla.), said that “information sharing and coordination across the Intelligence Community has been inconsistent,” and expressed concerns “that there is no unified, comprehensive process within the Federal Government for collecting and analyzing intelligence on unidentified aerial phenomena, despite the potential threat.”

Within 180 days of the act’s implementation, the committee calls for a report on all unidentified aerial phenomena including “Identification of potential aerospace or other threats posed by the unidentified aerial phenomena to national security, and an assessment of whether this unidentified aerial phenomena activity may be attributed to one or more foreign adversaries.” The goal of the provision is an overall standardization and centralization of intelligence on UFOs.

Is this just stargazing?

There may be good reason to keep an eye out for flying saucers. In the past few years, Navy members have reported unidentified aircrafts following Naval aircrafts off both the West and East coasts. Apparently, the Pentagon secretly investigated instances like these until 2012 under the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program.

These Naval sightings were caught on video between 2004 and 2015, prompting speculation about anything from aliens to Chinese or Russian military technology. The videos were initially leaked but confirmed real by the Navy in 2019.

The frequency of these sightings has increased since 2014 and one of these mysterious aircrafts almost collided with a Naval pilot in Virginia Beach in 2014. What’s more, witnesses report a lack of visible engine and exhaust plumes.

Aside from little green aliens, a likely target for speculation could be Russian or Chinese technology. While the U.S. stepped back on hypersonic technology, Russia and China invested heavily. Other explanations have to do with drone technology. 

The Pentagon, however, is not so sure. About the videos, Pentagon spokeswoman Sue Gough said that “the [Defense] department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena.” The Air Force is not concerned about a foreign breach of security either. Major Bryan Lewis, Air Force spokesman, stated that the Air Force is “not concerned that China or Russia have developed a long-range capability about which we are not aware.”

Whatever the target of debate, does it really matter? These sightings are not cornfield flying saucers, they are confirmed breaches of military airspace that exhibit highly advanced — if not illusory — technological capabilities. Understanding these events is also essential in patching up any shortcomings in American defense capabilities. A centralized record for lawmakers and national-security leaders is long overdue and a sound step toward shoring up our defense abilities and detecting potential threats.

And who can deny the additional intrigue added to a growing storyline of America’s unconventional defense developments — Space Force, and now this?

Carine Hajjar is an editorial intern at National Review and a student at Harvard University studying government, data science, and economics.

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