In an incident reported last year, a U.S. military MQ-9 Reaper drone flying a routine mission observed a “metallic orb,” a defense official told Congress Wednesday. While popular culture has labeled what’s thought to be alien spacecraft as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), the Pentagon recently created the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) which has taken on the role of legitimately tracking encounters with what it terms Unexplained Anomalous Phenomena (UAP).
“What we have done is reduce the most typically reported UAP characteristics to these fields, mostly around 1 to 4 meters wide,” said Sean M. Kirkpatrick, director of AARO, who appeared in front of a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, describing how UAPs mostly appear. “Silver. Translucent. Metallic. 10,000 to 30,000 feet [in the air] with apparent velocities from the stationary to mach to no thermal exhausts usually detected.”The statement is particularly notable because previously publicized military UAP sightings have come from manned aircraft. This is the first public instance of a military drone spotting a UAP.
Kirkpatrick was tight-lipped as to the origins of the aircraft, but acknowledged the almost inhuman levels of speed and design. But he was clear that UAP sightings have a wide range of potential explanations.“That range spans adversary breakthrough technology on one hand, known objects and phenomena in the middle, all the way to the extreme theories of extraterrestrials.”The Reaper episode he described occurred in 2022 somewhere in the Middle East and was accompanied by a video showing what appears to be a bright, shimmering silver orb following an aircraft that he described as a “spherical UAP.”
Apparently, there had been other similar encounters with the same UAP.“UAP characteristic and behavior consistent with other "metallic orb" observations in the region,” said the AARO slide accompanying the video shown at committee. Kirkpatrick acknowledged that most of the time his office is eventually able to decipher what the UAP actually is when it's sighted, even hinting that he has alerted intelligence and Department of Defense officials that evidence suggests adversary states have certain capabilities the U.S. government isn’t aware of. “Part of what we have to do as we go through these, especially the ones that show signatures of advanced technical capabilities, is determine if there is a foreign nexus,” said Kirkpatrick. “I am concerned about what that nexus is, and I have indicators that some are related to foreign capabilities. We have to investigate that with our partners. And as we get evidence to support that, it's then handed off to the appropriate [intelligence community] to investigate.”One of the slides that Kirkpatrick used in his testimony showed the geographic areas where UAP sightings happen the most, which coincided with locations around the world where there are known to be U.S. military installations. Since a bombshell New York Times article in 2017 broke the news that the Pentagon had been tracking real incidents of potential alien encounters and its troops for decades, the U.S. government began a period of transparency and open reporting to the public on the question of what these UAP incidents actually are.