While the unexplained sightings mostly took place in the area of military facilities or operations, it could be the result of collection distortions or the presence of state-of-the-art sensors.
Some people believe that any phenomenon exhibiting a technology beyond the capabilities of the United States must be studied in depth. Skeptics believe that most or all of the sightings, including videos captured by cameras on military fighter jets, can be explained by optical tricks or naturally occurring phenomena.
Earlier this month, Avril D. Haines, director of the national intelligence service, said the government needed to do better to gather information about the inexplicable phenomenon. Ms. Haines said the main focus remained on whether the phenomenon was rival nation planes spying on the United States, but kept the possibility of otherworldly explanations open.
“The main issues that Congress and others have been concerned about are essentially air safety concerns and counter-espionage issues,” she said. “But of course the question always arises, is there anything else that we just don’t understand and that could come from outside of the world?”
Ms. Haines’ extraterrestrial comment did not necessarily refer to space aliens, but rather to walking explanations such as meteors and solar flares that could affect flight safety issues.
For years, military intelligence officer Luis Elizondo led a little-noticed group at the Pentagon called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The Pentagon said the program was discontinued in 2012, but supporters of the program said its work would continue. In 2020 the Pentagon announced it had a new group, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force.
In the Dr. Hick’s published memo states that the task force would move on to the new synchronization group immediately. Subject to the approval of Dr. Hicks will select an acting director for the new group and issue guidelines, she said.
The new director will have the power to standardize incident reporting on unidentified area phenomena, oversee analysis of data on unexplained sightings, and identify deficiencies in detection functions.