At a public hearing, the first of its kind for 50 years, defence chiefs revealed that they had recorded 400 UFO sightings altogether. This figure has more than doubled over the past period as the stigma over reporting sightings has reduced following a significant number of reports from military personnel about historic sightings.
Pentagon officials made it clear that no evidence of extraterrestrial origins had been uncovered so far.
However, they vowed to “go wherever the data takes us” in what they described as an “all hands on deck” approach.
Scott Bray, the deputy director of naval intelligence, told the hearing there were sightings he “can’t explain” due to the “flight characteristics” or radar readings from the unidentified objects.
He showed the hearing a video of one such incident where a spherical object flew past the cockpit of an F-18 jet.
He said: “I do not have an explanation for what this specific object is.”
Mr Bray was asked if there had been any collisions between US aircraft and the UFOs.
In response he said that there hadn’t but 11 near misses had been recorded.
He said: “We have not had a collision, we’ve had at least 11 near misses though.”
He said: “We are [now] reasonably confident these relate to unmanned aerial systems [drones] in the area.
“Light passing through night vision goggles and then being recorded by a single-lens reflex camera. [It was] some type of drone.”
He added: “Reports of sightings are frequent and continuing.
“Recently, I received a call from a senior [Naval] aviator with over 2,000 flight hours. He called me personally from the flight line to talk about what he had just experienced.”
Mr Bray also went on to explain that officials had so far not detected “no material, no emanations, that would suggest anything extraterrestrial in origin”.
He added that no communication had been established with a UFO and no wreckage had been found.