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Pentagon Wants More Tech, Collaboration For UAP Investigations

The office that oversees unidentified aerial phenomena reporting eyes more transparency and additional data analytics capabilities.

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Pentagon Wants More Tech, Collaboration For UAP Investigations
An unclassified still shot of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 jet crew encountering an unexplained anomalous phenomena (UAP). Photo Credit: DOD All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office

The Pentagon office responsible for investigating unidentified flying objects wants more help to identify additional technologies for detecting and tracking a large unresolved portion of around 800 cases — nearly 300 of which were received in the past year alone.

One challenge has to do with a lack of data around the unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs).

“A large number of cases in AARO’s holdings remain technically unresolved because of a lack of data. Without sufficient data, these cases cannot be resolved,” according to a recently published unclassified report from the office.

The latest congressionally mandated annual report on UAP outlined that it received 291 reports from Aug. 31, 2022, to April 30, 2023, with a total amount of UAP sighting cases rising to 801 since its launch last year.

In addition to its data challenges, the office is also trying to mitigate reporting bias and mature its partnerships within the broader government community.

“[We’re] working with the military departments and the Joint Staff to normalize, integrate and expand UAP reporting beyond the aviators — to all service members — including mariners, submariners and our space Guardians,” said AARO Director Sean Kirkpatrick in a previously published statement.

Incident reports still largely stem from military personnel or sensors in restricted military airspace, and officials say diversifying that pool will result in fewer bias. More than 100 of the cases in the latest report came from the Federal Aviation Administration from commercial pilots nationally.

AARO is working on a process for declassifying information related to UAP sightings as well as enable those from the broader defense community including contractors to report sightings.

According to the report, the agency has established “classified collaboration mechanisms” that would allow AARO to partner and research UAP with other government agencies “to ensure as much transparency as possible.”

This effort includes deepening relationships within the Air Force, including the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory, while also integrating space and maritime domains into the office’s operations.

As the office matures its technical capabilities, it anticipates an increase in data and a growing need to better analyze it.

“AARO’s analysts scour multiple classified and unclassified databases to identify any existing data on each UAP case, prioritizing sensor information that yields the highest quantity of pertinent, valuable data for review. As the office employs more sensors specifically tailored for UAP detection, the amount and variety of technical data produced will increase, facilitating more and better analytic fidelity,” the report said.

In addition, the office has initiated a “multilayered” science and technology plan, incorporating other government agencies and centers of excellence to determine systems that could assist to detect and analyze UAPs.

A sensor calibration campaign is also a part of the plan, which will allow AARO to measure known objects like balloons or unmanned aircraft systems that are often reported as UAPs. The data would subsequently be used for pilot training and for algorithm development.

“This modeling will help AARO increase its analysis and resolution of future cases as well,” the report said.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks established the office in July 2022 as part of a 2022 National Defense Authorization Act direction for DOD to synchronize efforts for identifying and tracking UAP as a matter of national security.

Update: On Oct. 31, the office released the second phase of its reporting mechanism enabling current or former U.S. government employees, servicemembers or contractors to submit a report related to UAP dating back to 1945.

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