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UFO sightings: Pentagon reveals cause of 1960s uptick in ‘extraterrestrial’ activity

A spike in UFO sightings since the 1960s was caused by the US military testing spy planes and space technology, according to a Pentagon report.

The report, which was presented to Congress on Friday, also found that there is “no evidence” that the US government had interactions with aliens, adding that most sightings of UFOs or “unidentified anomalous phenomena” (UAP) were ordinary objects.

It added that public opinion surrounding UFOs has been influenced by pop culture.

“The proliferation of television programmes, books, movies, and the vast amount of internet and social media content centred on UAP-related topics most likely has influenced the public conversation on this topic, and reinforced these beliefs within some sections of the population,” the report said.

The report lists classified government programmes including the Manhattan Project and the secret development of the Air Force’s stealth drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, that may have contributed to increased reports of unidentified objects or phenomena.

It also found that an alleged 1961 leaked memo about UFOs was inauthentic, and that an “alien spacecraft” sample collected by a UAP investigating organisation was not made of an other-worldly material but instead was made mostly of magnesium, zinc and bismuth.

A new Pantagon report has found that there is ‘no evidence’ that the US government had interactions with aliens (AFP via Getty)
A new Pantagon report has found that there is ‘no evidence’ that the US government had interactions with aliens (AFP via Getty)

A Pentagon spokesperson said that officials had approached the report in an open-minded way, but had simply found no evidence of extraterrestrial visitors.

“All investigative efforts, at all levels of classification, concluded that most sightings were ordinary objects and phenomena and the result of misidentification,” Major General Pat Ryder said.

The report also found that more recently, government and commercial drones, new kinds of satellites and errant weather balloons have led to a new surge in reports.

Reported UFO sightings in the US surged in the 1960s – the same decade that saw the first man walk on the moon and Yuri Gagarin orbit the planet.

Since then, UFO sightings have continued to grow, with the Pentagon receiving 800 reports of unidentified objects as of April 2023, up from 650 reports in August 2022.

Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the Pentagon office established to investigate potential UFO sightings, told CNN at the time that about half of the objects sighted are determined to be “mundane things” such as balloons or drones.

He added that between two and four per cent of reports are truly anomalous and require further investigation. Meanwhile, “a very small percentage” of reports have “interesting” signatures, such as high-speed travel or “unknown morphologie,” he said.

Public interest in UFOs has grown rapidly in recent years. A July 2023 hearing in Congress on the matter drew significant attention from the public after veteran and former member of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency David Grusch testified during a congressional hearing that the US government is in possession of “intact” craft of “non-human origin” from UAP crash sites.

However, his claims were dismissed by Mr Kirkpatrick, who said Mr Grusch has “no evidence that suggests anything extraterrestrial in nature”.

Meanwhile, public interest in UFOs was stirred up again in September when self-described UFO expert Jaime Maussan testified in front of the Mexican Congress that he had discovered two “non-human” corpses that are not part of “our terrestrial evolution”.

Mr Maussan’s claims have not been proven and he has previously been associated with claims of discoveries that have later been debunked.

A formal office to investigate reports of UAPs, which Mr Kirkpatrick heads up, was established under the Biden administration.

According to a 2021 Gallup poll, just over 40 per cent of Americans think alien spacecraft have visited Earth, a number that increased from 33 per cent in just two years.