Although the response was muted due to worldwide media focus on the Covid-19 pandemic, the US Department of Defense (DOD), in a historic move, officially released on 27 April 2020 three video clips of unidentified aerial objects encountered and recorded by US Navy aviators while on training missions in 2004 and 2015.
The videos had been circulating in the public domain since December 2017 when one was leaked by The New York Times accompanying its blockbuster revelation that the Pentagon had conducted a secret program to investigate UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena) from 2007 through 2012. Two more videos were leaked in March 2018 by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, a private company founded by former rock musician Tom DeLonge, which researches, collects and analyzes materials related to UFOs.
The leaked videos and New York Times coverage rekindled public and news media interest in UFOs and led to closed-door US congressional briefings by top Naval Intelligence officials. In the spring of 2019, a Navy spokesman announced that their branch of the US military was drafting new protocols so that pilots and other personnel could report their UFO sightings or encounters without fear of reprisal.
Then in September 2019, in response to widespread speculation about the origin and authenticity of the videos, the DOD confirmed they are genuine, but not officially declassified. The release in April was thus a formality, but devoid of any tantalizing new details about what the objects were.
An official statement accompanying the release of the videos reads in part: “… After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena.”
UFO investigators and enthusiasts who parsed that section of the statement likely nodded with satisfaction, for it appeared to confirm that the physics-defying objects were not a top-secret advanced technology being tested by the DOD while naval pilots and radar technicians remained uninformed; or glitches in the aircrafts’ imaging software, or pilot error — all theories put forward in the media by a few prominent scientists and a host of skeptics.
“DOD is releasing the videos,” the statement concludes, “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos. The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified’.”
The Pentagon essentially confirmed that UFOs are real, but few understandably paid much attention during an international crisis.