Hundreds of unidentified flying objects have been observed by military personnel over decades and warrant* further investigation, a rare public hearing by the US Congress has heard.
Congress, which is America’s parliament, held the first public hearing in more than 50 years into UFOs and the possibility of alien life.
The May 17 meeting of the House of Representatives intelligence committee heard from top Pentagon* officials about their investigations into sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena* (UAP), the official term for what are more widely known as UFOs. These sightings included 144 that were documented between 2004 and 2021.
“We know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena,” said undersecretary of defence for intelligence and security Ronald Moultrie.
“We are committed to an effort to determine their origins”.
Two senior defence officials, who throughout stressed the potential national security threat of UAP, showed committee members a video of small triangular objects in the sky, and another of an unidentified object zooming past an F-18 fighter jet, as examples of the sorts of strange phenomena they couldn’t explain.
The officials said US pilots had almost collided with UFOs at least 11 times.
The chairman of the committee, Andre Carson, said the “stigma*” associated with reporting UAP sightings had hobbled* reporting and analysis efforts.
“Pilots avoided reporting or were laughed at when they did. Defence department officials relegated* the issue to the back room, or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a sceptical* national security community,” he said.
“Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it‘s true. But they are real. They need to be investigated. And any threats they pose need to be mitigated*.”
The hearing, which included a private session not open to the public, reflected efforts by some in the US defence and intelligence community to share more information with the public about UAP sightings, and follows release of a short report on UAP in June last year by the US intelligence services.
‘Look At That Thing!’: Pentagon Declassifies Footage of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena
That report left open the possibility UAPs could be “breakthrough aerospace technology” developed by Russia or China, rather than signs of alien life.
In November last year the US defence department established the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group to “synchronise* efforts” to “detect, identify and attribute* objects of interest”. The US navy established a standardised* reporting for UAP in 2019.
A UK government study, conducted from 1997 to 2000 and known as the Condign report, found the existence of UAP was “indisputable*”.
“Several aircraft have been destroyed and at least four pilots have been killed chasing UFOs,” the report said, referring to information the authors had obtained from Soviet, Russian and Chinese research programs.
The French government, which has been investigating UAP for decades, declassified* its own research last year, concluding “their reality is indisputable even if hoaxes exist”.
- warrant: make a particular action necessary
- Pentagon: the headquarters of the US defence department
- phenomena: things that exist but are not easily explained
- stigma: negative attitudes towards someone because of something they have done
- hobbled: slowed the movement, progress or action of something
- relegated: put something or someone into a less important position
- sceptical: not easily convinced, having doubts
- mitigated: made less harmful or unpleasant
- synchronise: cause to occur or operate at the same time or rate
- attribute: to say something is the result of a particular thing
- standardised: to make things of the same type all have the same basic features
- indisputable: unable to be challenged or denied
- declassified: officially declare to be no longer secret
- What is the US parliament called?
- How long has it been since America’s parliament has held a public hearing into UFOs and possible alien life?
- What does UAP stand for?
- How many UFO sightings were documented between 2004 and 2021
- How many times have US pilots almost collided with UFOs?
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1. Ask the questions
Imagine that you are part of the intelligence committee investigating UAPs. Write five questions that you would ask the top defence officials. The purpose of your questions are to help you understand what the UAPs really are and to find ways to encourage pilots to speak up when they see one.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Critical and Creative Thinking
Why do you think so much information about UAPs has been classified, or kept secret? Write sentences explaining your ideas.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Civics and Citizenship
Wow word recycle
There are plenty of wow words (ambitious pieces of vocabulary) being used in the article. Some are in the glossary, but there might be extra ones from the article that you think are exceptional as well.
Identify all the words in the article that you think are not common words, and particularly good choices for the writer to have chosen.
Select three words you have highlighted to recycle into your own sentences.
If any of the words you identified are not in the glossary, write up your own glossary for them.