The Pentagon on Jan. 12 released its long-awaited 2022 report on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) – more commonly known as UFOs – which details 510 incidents, with many of those occurring in sensitive military airspace. 


The unclassified “2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” was mandated by the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act and was created by the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) National Intelligence Manager for Aviation and the newly-established All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office.


The report cataloged 510 UAP incidents – including 144 objects previously reported in 2021 and 366 new reports – gathered from several Federal agencies and the branches of the United States military. 


Many of the sightings catalogued in the 2022 report were gathered from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, “who witnessed UAPs during operational duties and reported the events,” according to the report.


Some of the sightings appear to have relatively innocuous causes.


After analysis, the majority of sightings were determined to exhibit “unremarkable characteristics” and could be “characterized as unmanned aircraft systems, or balloon-like objects,” the report says. 


A handful of other sightings were attributed to drones, birds, weather events, or airborne debris like plastic bags. But “initial characterization does not mean positively resolved or unidentified,” the report adds. 


However, about 171 sightings of UAPs remain unexplained by the U.S. government. And while the report finds no evidence of extraterrestrial ties, the Federal government still considers these UAPs a threat to national security.


“The safety of our service personnel, our bases and installations, and the protection of U.S. operations security on land, in the skies, seas, and space are paramount. We take reports of incursions into our designated space, land, sea, or airspaces seriously and examine each one,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement


Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle applauded the Defense Department and the greater intelligence community for publishing the report. But lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., felt there was still more to be done to analyze UAPs.


“More needs to be done across the Defense Department and Intelligence Community to utilize existing sensors to collect and analyze more data on UAPs. I am committed to ensuring we get to the truth for the American people,” Sen. Rubio said in a statement

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.