Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the RAND Corporation’s study, which found UFO reports were 1.2 times more likely within 18 miles of military operational areas.
The number of UFO sightings analyzed by the Defense Department numbered more than 800 over the past three years of reporting, according to data released Wednesday by researchers in the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office.
In the most recent report, which documented cases reported between August 2022 and April 2023, a total of 291 UAP sightings were analyzed “using a rigorous scientific framework and data-driven approach,” the Pentagon stated Wednesday. In total, the three annual reports from 2021 to 2023 comprise reviews of 801 sightings that date back to 1996.
In April, AARO Director Sean Kirkpatrick told lawmakers that there were no UAP sightings that had been determined to be of extraterrestrial origin. Additionally, Kirkpatrick noted that there was never a perceived threat by any individual sighting.
“While the mere presence of UAP in the airspace represents a potential hazard to flight safety, none of these reports suggest the UAP maneuvered to an unsafe proximity to civil or military aircraft,” AARO’s yearly report reads. “Although none of these UAP reports have been positively attributed to foreign activities, these cases continue to be investigated.”
A very small percentage of the sightings demonstrated characteristics of interest, such as traveling at high speeds or having unknown morphologies, according to the report. The vast majority of sightings have “ordinary characteristics of readily explainable sources,” but a large number of the sightings have too little data to support a conclusion.
The report by the AARO, an office tasked with researching and analyzing all such credible sightings, also corroborates independent research that links increased sightings of unidentified phenomena to the proximity of military bases, training locations and other areas of military operations. Using a publicly available database, RAND Corporation researchers found the rate of UAP sightings to be 1.2 times greater within 18 miles of military areas of operation.
The Pentagon released its most recent report on the heels the AARO’s launch of a website designed to serve as the public facing portion of the government’s research and analysis of UFOs. The site will eventually allow users to report UFO sightings dating back to 1945, according to the AARO. A number of amendments in this year’s defense policy bill aimed at setting stronger transparency standards for the government’s UFO response are also in the works.
Authored by Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., the House amendment for the fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act seeks to provide greater transparency of UAP sightings. Defense Department officials would have 180 days after the passage of the legislation to provide such documents, if the legislation is adopted by both chambers.
“Our government needs to be transparent with its people,” Burchett told Military Times via email in July. “I understand taking measures to avoid compromising national security, but the American people deserve to know what’s going on and what the Pentagon really knows. They can handle it.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a sister amendment to the Senate’s defense bill that would give a review board the authority to review and declassify government documents related to unidentified phenomena. Final passage of any legislation is on hold as the House works to elect a new speaker, or approves limited legislative work to be done via an interim speaker.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.