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The long awaited Pentagon report on UFOs has seen the US military admit it has no explanation for 143 sightings over the last 17 years – and cannot rule out extraterrestrial involvement.
The bombshell study – ordered by congress just before President Donald Trump was booted out of office – documented 11 UAP near-misses reported by pilots and a small number of cases in which military aircraft "processed radio frequency energy associated with UAP sightings."
"UAP" stands for "unidentified aerial phenomena" and is the new term coined by the taskforce – seemingly to avoid using "UFO".
Most reports also described objects that interrupted training or other U.S. military exercises, it stated.
A task force set up to investigate what exactly was going on focused on phenomena witnessed first-hand by military aviators, with 80 reports involving detection with multiple sensors, the report said.
Most were from the past few years.
The report established five potential explanatory categories: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, U.S. government or American industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems and a catch-all "other" category.
A senior official said the findings did not provide any "clear indications" that the UAP are part of a foreign intelligence-collection program or a major technological advancement by a potential adversary.
The report marked a turned point for the U.S. government after the military spent decades deflecting, debunking and discrediting observations of unidentified flying objects and "flying saucers" backing back to the 1940s.
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The report includes some UAP cases that previously came to light in the Pentagon's release of video from naval aviators showing enigmatic aircraft off the U.S. East and West Coasts exhibiting speed and manoeuvrability exceeding known aviation technologies and lacking any visible means of propulsion or flight-control surfaces.
All but one of the listed sightings – an instance attributed to a large, deflating balloon – remain unexplained, subject to further analysis, the report said.
For the other 143 cases, the report found that too little data exists to conclude whether they represent some exotic aerial system developed either by a U.S. government or commercial entity, or by a foreign power such as China or Russia.
In some observations, UAP appeared to exhibit "unusual patterns or flight characteristics," but those may stem from sensor glitches or witness misperceptions and "require additional rigorous analysis," the report said.
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Analysts have yet to rule out an extraterrestrial origin, senior U.S. officials told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The report's language avoided explicit mentions of such possibilities.
Asked about possible alien explanations, one of the officials said: "That's not the purpose of the task force, to evaluate any sort of search for extraterrestrial life. …That's not what we were charged with doing."
"Of the 144 reports we are dealing with here, we have no clear indications that there is any non-terrestrial explanation for them – but we will go wherever the data takes us," the senior official added.
- Donald Trump
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