On January 12, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs. The term “UAP,” which is largely synonymous with the original usage of Unidentified Flying Object, or UFO, is designed to be a broad category for reporting observed but unexplained sights in the sky, a kind of “see something, say something” for pilots.
The report, mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for 2022, includes the work of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, or AARO, which was originally created within the Department of Defense in 2020 as the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. “All domains” means the phenomena need not be flying in the sky, but could also occur at sea, in space, or on land.
This is the second report on UAPs since the creation of the task force, following a preliminary report released in 2021. In the preliminary report from two years ago, the task force identified 144 sightings over the previous 17 years. In the new report, there are a total of 510 sightings, including those 144 already documented, 247 new ones made since the first report, and 119 reports of events prior to 2021 but that were not included in the initial assessment, for a total of 366 newly identified reports.
The majority of new reports come from US Navy and US Air Force “aviators and operators,” who saw the phenomena during regular operations, and then reported those sightings to the newly created appropriate channels, like the AARO.
The official takeaway? “AARO’s initial analysis and characterization of the 366 newly-identified reports, informed by a multi-agency process, judged more than half as exhibiting unremarkable characteristics,” the document notes. Of those unremarkable reports: 26 were drones or drone-like, 163 were balloons or balloon-like, and six were clutter spotted in the sky.
That leaves 171 “uncharacterized and unattributed” remaining from the batch of newly identified reports, a group that is perhaps thought of more as unresolved than unexplainable. Of those, some “appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities, and require further analysis,” though anyone looking for that analysis in the report will be sorely disappointed.
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