UAP report

The Pentagon’s New UAP Report is Seriously Flawed

Last month the U.S. government’s new UAP investigation office, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), submitted a report to Congress entitled, “Report on the Historical Record of U.S. Government Involvement with Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena” (UAP, the new term for UFO). This new report is itself anomalous for several reasons.

First, who ever heard of a government report being submitted months before it was due? Especially one so rife with embarrassing errors in desperate need of additional fact-checking and revision? Was AARO Director Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick rushing to get the report out the door before departing, perhaps to ensure that his successor could not revise or reverse some of the report’s conclusions?

Second, this appears to be the first AARO report submitted to Congress that the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) did not sign off on. I don’t know why, but Avril Haines and her Office were quite right not to in this case, having spared themselves considerable embarrassment in the process.

Third, this is the most error-ridden and unsatisfactory government report I can recall reading during or after decades of government service. We all make mistakes, but this report is an outlier in terms of inaccuracies and errors. Were I reviewing this as a graduate student’s thesis it would receive a failing grade for failing to understand the assignment, sloppy and inadequate research, and flawed interpretation of the data. Hopefully, long before it was submitted, the author would have consulted his or her professor and received some guidance and course correction to prevent such an unfortunate outcome.

Another irregularity worth noting is the fact that before its release, Department of Defense (DoD) Public Affairs sponsored a closed-door pre-brief on the report’s findings for a select group of press outlets on an invitation-only basis. Outlets like The Debrief, which closely follow the UAP issue, were excluded. Following the report’s release, most of the news agencies that had participated in the pre-brief went on to publish articles that uncritically parroted the report’s findings. Moreover, they seem to have done so without consulting any of the scholars or experts who have studied and written extensively on this topic as would normally be the case in another field.

What about consulting the famous scientist, author, venture capitalist, and UAP expert Dr. Jacques Vallee, who worked with Air Force astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek on Project Blue Book and lived much of the history this UAP report purports to cover? Neither AARO nor the press bothered to speak with him. How about Robert Powell, Director of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies and author of the outstanding new book UFOs: A Scientist Explains What We Know (and Don’t Know)? Or professor Alexander Wendt at the Ohio State University? I’m sure these and many other authors and scholars would have been happy to assist AARO or the press, had they been contacted.

That America’s leading press outlets missed the problems and issues identified below and failed to present an alternative perspective, is itself typical of the stigmatized history of UAP press coverage since WWII. Those interested in the role of the press on the UAP topic may want to read Terry Hansen’s provocative book, The Missing Times.

The disappointing lack of critical press coverage of this important report prompted me to begin compiling the insights of UAP scholars and experts who have studied the history of UAP and the US government. I hope the observations below will prove helpful to members of Congress and the public seeking to understand the history of the US government’s involvement with UAP. Perhaps, when AARO publishes Volume II of its report, some effort will be made by the mainstream press to consult UAP subject-matter experts before rushing their articles into print.

One of the other concerns I have about press coverage of this report is the tendency to conflate the UAP topic generally with allegations the government has recovered off-world technology. The UAP issue is distinct and critically important regardless of the truth about allegations of recovered extraterrestrial, nonhuman technology. Asking AARO to investigate that allegation was unfortunate since a subordinate DoD or IC office finding its superiors innocent was never going to satisfy the critics anyway.

Moreover, a disruptive secret of that colossal magnitude affecting every person on the planet would never be revealed in a report to Congress from a mid-level official or organization. Only the President, or an independent Congressional investigation, could reasonably be expected to reveal such a profound and transformative issue. If Congress wants to be confident it knows the truth, it needs to conduct its own independent investigation.

In the meantime, Congress and the public deserve a great deal more transparency and clarity regarding US government data on the UAP issue. Too many well-documented incidents are occurring at too many locations, a problem greatly exacerbated by the rise of sophisticated drone technologies. If you don’t think this is a serious issue, consider that just a few months ago fighter aircraft were transferred from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana after weeks of intrusions by unidentified drone-like craft. The Air Force seemed powerless to capture or deter these intruders and has still not been able to identify them. Similar incidents have been afflicting Navy warships and other bases around the country.

If the Air Force can’t defend its own bases, how can it defend the rest of the country? Don’t we need to get on top of this sooner rather than later? As journalist Tyler Rogoway (incidentally a skeptic of ET theories) said in one of his many superb articles at The War Zone (emphasis added here and elsewhere below): “The gross inaction and the stigma surrounding Unexplained Aerial Phenomena as a whole has led to what appears to be the paralyzation of the systems designed to protect us and our most critical military technologies, pointing to a massive failure in U.S. military intelligence.”

In sum, the number of UAP reports and the number of intrusions into US military airspace are both increasing, so we need to embrace the full range of UAP and drone issues and pursue them vigorously, rather than trying to diminish or trivialize the topic the way AARO’s historical report seeks to do.

Hopefully, Volume II of AARO’s history of UAP will be far more accurate and informative, and will also garner more serious, informed, and independent press coverage.

Missing the Target

The new UAP investigative agency of the U.S. Government is currently called the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). It reports jointly to the leaders of DoD and the Intelligence Community (IC). AARO recently sent the classified version of its first historical report, Vol. I, to Congress. Ostensibly, it covers the period from 1945 to October 31, 2023. The administrative cover date is February 2024. Volume II is due on about June 15, 2024.

The Congressional legal mandate, meaning by statutory law, required that this AARO historical report present the detailed history of UAP as recorded in US Government records. However, AARO instead presented a summary history of the records of flawed USG investigations of UAP, rather than what was actually mandated: the history of UAP and “relating to” UAP, meaning the history of UAP sightings and investigations (and to be completed using USG records and other official information).

The law required a “written report detailing the historical record of the United States Government relating to unidentified anomalous phenomena,” and the word “investigations” nowhere appears – the phrase does not say it is to be a historical report solely “relating to” investigations of “unidentified anomalous phenomena.” (NDAA FY2023 Sec. 6802(j)(1)(A), codified statute 50 U.S. Code § 3373(j)(1)(A), as amended.)

In another breach of the explicit terms of the law, AARO failed to compile, itemize, and report on US intelligence agency abuses on UAP (per 50 U.S.C. § 3373, below). The AARO Historical Report was required to:

“(ii) include a compilation and itemization of the key historical record of the involvement of the intelligence community with unidentified anomalous phenomena [UAP], including— …

“(III) any efforts to obfuscate, manipulate public opinion, hide, or otherwise provide incorrect unclassified or classified information about unidentified anomalous phenomena [UAP] or related activities.” [NDAA FY23 Sec. 6802(j)(1)(B); 50 U.S. Code § 3373(j)(1)(B)]

Contrary to Congressional direction, AARO completely omits entire agencies – NORAD, NSA, DIA (prior to 2009), CBP, etc. – agencies with known investigations or activities relating to UAP, and also omits any discussion of “any efforts to obfuscate, [or]… hideunclassified or classified information about unidentified anomalous phenomena [UAP] or related activities.” AARO omits these agencies even when there are unclassified documents available on those agencies’ records and investigations of UAP (for example, see the approximate 100 pages of CBP Customs & Border Protection agency internal memos of Records on UAP, plus 10 videos, released in August, 2023, but unmentioned by AARO; Also see McMillan, Hanks, Plain, “Incursions at the Border,” The Debrief, May 27, 2022).

Excessive Secrecy

In the past, extreme and excessive secrecy has been displayed in efforts to “hide … unclassified or classified” UAP-related information, illustrated by the AARO predecessor’s UAP Security Classification Guide, first distributed internally on April 16, 2020 (see graphic below) which is itself heavily redacted, removing most indications of the type of UAP report content requiring classification. This is a binding secrecy regulation – don’t be fooled by the word “guide,” it is absolutely mandatory. The secrecy regulation specifically states that only a general statement of an increase in UAP sightings can be released to the public, and “without [releasing] any further information regarding when [or] where” a UAP “sighting [has] been reported” as that is classified. Additionally, the “times and places” of UAP detections are classified and are required to be “unspecified” and can’t be released; it is not “U” (Unclassified) (p. 6, subparagraphs. 4.1b-c).

The internal Pentagon talking points on the UAP subject are a gag order that specifically forbids DoD officials from even revealing to the media and the public the fact that “virtually everything” about UAP is unreleasable, citing the above UAP Security Classification regulation (produced by AARO’s predecessor, the UAP Task Force). Specifically, it states: “Except for its existence, and the mission/purpose, virtually everything else about the UAPTF [UAP Task Force] is classified, per the signed Security Classification Guide.”

Similar UAP security regulations no doubt are applied throughout the US Government. There is not one single item of government information about a UAP sighting that is not classified according to this secrecy regulation. Why is that? How can the US Government be transparent about UAP sighting incidents if nothing will be released? (See John Greenewald of The Black Vault, in “What’s NOT in AARO’s recent “Historical Record” UAP Report?” from his X/Twitter post on March 31, 2024).

How can this be, when DoD itself confirmed, prior to the creation of this (excessive) classification guide, that the three famous Navy UAP videos I provided the New York Times and Washington Post were unclassified, and their release would not damage national security? In fact, by bringing a major intelligence failure occurring in US airspace to the attention of policymakers, the public release of those videos clearly advanced national security. The bureaucratic fiasco of this classification guide occurred despite a broad consensus in government, including among our military and intelligence officials and members of Congress, that over-classification is a major problem that needs to be addressed. As Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) said in a letter to Congress in 2022, “Over-classification of government secrets both undermines national security by blocking the intelligence community’s ability to share critical information and erodes the basic trust that our citizens have in their government.”

Air Force intelligence agency “efforts to … manipulate public opinion” on UAP since the 1950s are what caused the harsh stigma attached to the entire UFO subject in society. But this powerful anti-UAP stigma is not investigated or historically documented by AARO – or even mentioned – contrary to its legal obligation (more on this below). In addition to the AF-instigated Robertson Panel of 1953, and all that followed after it, there are even admissions by a retired USAF OSI officer of allegedly spying on civilian UFO researchers and spreading disinformation on behalf of the Air Force.

The unclassified version of the historical AARO Report (AAROR) was released on March 8, 2024. But prior to that, AARO quietly released the report 2 days in advance to several friendly media outlets to cultivate favorable media coverage. These outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, faithfully carried the government’s message forward, apparently without consulting any of the scholars and researchers who could have helped them understand the report’s numerous errors, omissions, and shortcomings to provide a more balanced assessment. More objective reporting would have uncovered numerous major problems and serious errors in the AARO Report.

What follows are only a select few of the many issues and questions raised by the AARO Historical Report.

The AARO Report is Filled with Hundreds of Errors

The AARO report (AAROR) is pervaded by hundreds of unfortunate errors and absurdities involving the history, science, and facts presented in its 63 pages, with dozens–or more–errors on some pages (see graphic below of 14 errors alone just on the first page of the Table of Contents).

The report is replete with so many mistakes and misunderstandings that, page for page, it appears to be the greatest single repository of UAP errors, arguably surpassing even the Air Force’s Project Blue Book. Call AARO the New Blue Book. Speaking of which, the report utterly fails to convey any of the fundamental flaws or national controversies that dogged Project Blue Book, including the admission by its own chief scientist that Blue Book was a deeply flawed Air Force public relations effort to dispel public and Congressional concerns, rather than an objective inquiry.

To begin with, AARO asserts the Kenneth Arnold sighting that launched the whole UAP era occurred on June 23, 1947 (AAROR, p. 14).

Simple Googling would have gotten the correct June 24 date and the correct shape (it wasn’t actually “circular,” and neither was the Flying Flapjack which they call the “Flying Pancake” to erroneously emphasize its circularity even more). Arnold insisted the press’s label “flying saucers” for his sighting was a misnomer. Significantly, it is the important watershed event that launched the entire modern age of UAP. It’s not a typo in a minor detail that can just be brushed off.

There are unbelievable statements and insinuations in the AARO report such as the peculiar claim that the Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bomb somehow caused “sightings” and “erroneous UAP reporting” (AAROR pp. 4, 39-40) and did so even after it terminated on December 31, 1946 (a date they omit because it would not explain the sightings that began the modern UAP era in June 1947). That is a bit like saying trailer parks cause tornadoes. Since the Manhattan Project did not launch special aerial vehicles of any kind that could be “misidentified” as UAP, did the Project’s buildings fly up in the air and cause “sightings” and “erroneous UAP reporting”? This incredible claim is not explained by AARO.

Indeed, the truth is precisely the opposite of what AARO suggests. Not only is there no evidence of outside civilians mistaking the Manhattan Project and successor operations for UAP, but we know that personnel working inside the US nuclear weapons program were sighting UAP, reporting them, and thereafter collecting hundreds of their own authentic UAP reports. The senior AFOSI (Air Force Office of Special Investigations) officer responsible for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory compiled a detailed catalog of 209 recent “Unknown Aerial Phenomena” sightings and instrument tracking incidents in the Los Alamos area and surrounding regions (see sample p. 38 below). He sent the catalog with a classified memo to his superior, the agency director in Washington DC, General Joseph P. Carroll, on May 25, 1950, stating that security officials agreed:

“… the frequency of unexplained aerial phenomenon in the New Mexico area was such that an organized plan of reporting these observations should be undertaken…”

Other documents explain this “organized plan” included instrumented UFO / UAP tracking stations and networks that were set up by scientists and security officials in the Los Alamos Lab, Sandia Lab, Kirtland AFB, and Holloman AFB–White Sands areas, and put on base-wide alert, consisting of missile-tracking telescopic cameras, radars, nuclear radiation detectors, radio communication networks, aircraft for interception, etc. Yet, no AARO discussion of this.

“The observers of these phenomena include scientists, Special Agents of the Office of Special Investigations (IG), USAF, airline pilots, military pilots, Los Alamos Security Inspectors, military personnel, and many other persons of various occupations whose reliability is not questioned.”

Many of the UAPs reported by scientists and military personnel were described as either “green fireball phenomena” or flying “disks” (or “variation”). AARO has completely misrepresented the situation: The Manhattan Project and subsequent nuclear weapons activities were not causing spurious UAP sightings by civilians awed by “new technologies” they did not understand – the government scientists and military personnel themselves were actually seeing UAP and recording hundreds of UAP in authentic and well-documented reports.

These sightings officially reported by US Government personnel were consistent with what the external “unknowing” civilians (as AARO calls them) were reporting at the time – sometimes the government personnel and civilians sighted the same UAP at the same time, confirming each other.

Seemingly AARO is confusing secrecy-bred lurid rumors of aliens with a careful sighting of a UAP, up in the air, at an exact date, time, and location, having unexplainable motions and appearance, and backed up with scientifically valuable directional data involving speed, size, altitude, sensor data, radar tracking, etc. Yet AARO suggests that many of these documented sightings are just rumors or mistaken reports based on unwitting civilian observations of “new technologies” in classified US military activities.

AARO claims the first US satellite, Explorer 1 in 1958, and even the Apollo moon landings (pp. 41-42) caused UAP sighting misidentifications and were “formerly classified and sensitive … national security programs” (AAROR, pp. 39-40) – which they were not, and Apollo was just civilian NASA. AARO insinuates that the Apollo missions were “classified and sensitive”, and yet, apart from a limited number of contingency missions later revealed to have had classified components, the vast majority of NASA’s objectives with the missions were fully known to the public, with the moon landing broadcast to the entire planet on live television.

AARO states (pp. 10-11, 36):

“AARO assesses that some portion of [UAP] sightings since the 1940s have represented misidentification of never-before-seen experimental and operational space, rocket, and air systems… From the 1940s to the 1960s especially, the United States witnessed a boom in experimental technologies… Many of these technologies fit the description of a stereotypical Unidentified Flying Object (UFO). It is understandable how observers unfamiliar with these programs could mistake sightings of these new technologies as something extraordinary, even other-worldly.”

“AARO assesses that the incidents of UAP sightings reported to USG organizations … most likely are the result of a range of cultural, political, and technological factors. AARO bases this conclusion on the aggregate findings of all USG investigations to date [and] the misinterpretation of all reported named sensitive programs…”

What “new technology” let alone “many” was ever flown that “fit the description of a stereotypical … UFO” (e.g., a flying saucer)? Yet just before “naming” the Manhattan Project and Apollo as supposed “examples,” AARO reiterates the unsubstantiated point, claiming that many:

“… UAP sightings … were the result of misidentifications … of new technologies that [civilian] observers would have understandably reported as UFOs…. [O]bservers unknowingly … witnessed … and report[ed] as UFOsclassified and sensitive programs that involved … rocket launches … which AARO assess [sic] most likely were the cause of many UAP reports. AARO assesses that this common and understandable occurrence—the misidentification of new technologies for UAP— is present today [and] are reported as UAP.” (AAROR, p. 39)

Subsequently, AARO lists the Apollo program as one of 28 alleged examples (pp. 40, 42).

But no such UAP or “stereotypical UFO” sightings of a “misidentified” Apollo are known or cited by AARO and frankly, it is baffling to suggest anyone on Earth could see the Apollo moon landings with their eyes from 240,000 miles away or Apollo anywhere along the flight trajectory. AARO makes a point of stating that there were in the Apollo program “12 astronauts walking on the moon” without explaining how that is relevant or giving a single UAP sighting they seem to insinuate was caused by that. Are there any actual, serious UAP sightings misidentifying Apollo launches to the moon as UAP?

Scientific errors by AARO thus abound in its secret-project-inflated report, including those pointed out above regarding the miraculous feats of human vision sighting Apollo moon landings and Explorer 1 from outer space – besides insinuating apparent errors of logic and physics and injecting a non-issue of misleading irrelevancies (non-secret “secret” projects that did not and could not actually cause UAP sightings).

Did AARO Miss 64,000 Pages of Air Force Blue Book UAP Files?

AARO may have “partnered” with the National Archives in retrieving old Air Force Project Blue Book files but AARO seems to think there are only 65,778 pages of Blue Book files (within some 7,000 larger digital files), instead of the actual total of some 130,000 pages.

Is AARO aware there are 130,000 pages of Air Force UAP files on microfilm at the National Archives (and some additional files that were never microfilmed)?

All that anyone has to do is check the Fold3 website, available on the Internet since 2007, to find its total Blue Book page count of 129,658 pages (round off to 130,000) that Fold3’s predecessor digitized from Blue Book microfilm at NARA (see Fold3 internet screenshot below). (Page count includes about 6,000 AFOSI pages, some duplicative of the files and released with Blue Book.) And again it is documented that many records and files are missing from Blue Book, many with exact file numbers that determined investigators such as Jan Aldrich have documented over the years.


Did AARO somehow miss half of Blue Book’s files–some 64,000 pages–in its supposedly “thorough”, “complete”, and “accurate” history (AAROR, p. 12)? Did someone lose 64,000 pages of Blue Book UFO files? Did AARO investigate where these apparently missing Blue Book files disappeared or how the accounting error arose if it is just that?

Even aside from missing half of Blue Book’s files, which therefore could not be reviewed for history, AARO’s review of Air Force Blue Book history is so cursory that AARO seems to merely rehash old Blue Book press releases (see AAROR, pp. 18-19).

AARO claims it established 6 Lines of Effort (“LOEs” they call them) to prepare a “complete” and “accurate” history of the UAP “record” of government investigations (just not of UAP sightings as Congress also wanted): (1) open source, (2) classified, (3) personal interviewing, (4) National Archives, (5) private companies, and (6) intelligence/nat sec agencies (AAROR, pp. 22-13).

But obviously, AARO’s Six Lines of Effort were unmindful of 64,000 missing pages of Blue Book UFO files that only they at AARO were missing – while the rest of the world has, and has had, access to the pages through the Fold3 website since 2007 or by going to the microfilms at the National Archives or buying copies (all available since 1976). Additionally, as will be explained further below, AARO seems completely unaware of the existence of numerous important US government UAP investigation programs, activities, sightings, and radar/sensor-tracking incidents.

AARO Claims Early Spy Planes Caused UAP Reports – Yet Can’t Cite a Single Report

There is not a single known sighting of a U-2 reconnaissance plane reported as a UAP or extraterrestrial spaceship by some “unknowing” outside civilian supposedly dazzled by classified “new technology.”  Nothing in the Blue Book files (except a few obscure, unproven possible exceptions not even close to ET descriptions and not by bedazzled outside non-government civilians).  No one in AARO and before can even cite a date for one such purported U-2 sighted and reported as a UAP spaceship, let alone the implausible notion that U-2s accounted for “more than half ” of all UAP reports.
Under the U-2 Aquatone “secret project” entry, AARO claims “More than half of the UFO reports investigated in the 1950s and 1960s were assessed to be U.S. reconnaissance flights” and “that UFO reports would spike when the U-2 was in flight” (AAROR, p. 41).
More than “half” would mean conservatively over 5,000 U-2s mistakenly misidentified as UFOs or alien spacecraft!  No such “spikes” in numbers of purported U-2 “UFO” sightings were reported either, let alone even a single sighting.  A few possible isolated exceptions might lurk in the Blue Book files, though examples so far fall flat:  One sighting of a possible “USAF” recon plane but not called a “U-2” (U-2s were CIA anyway, not USAF) by an AF fighter pilot was not described in any way as that of an extraordinary or extraterrestrial spacecraft.  Another report several years later by a government atomic energy meteorologist also did not depict anything alien or extraterrestrial or even amazingly high-performance.  Neither case was confirmed by any U-2 flight records by Blue Book’s (non)investigation.  Even granting those two would still leave 4,998+ more purported UAP sightings of misidentified “U-2s” still left to be found in the Blue Book files.  Where might they be AARO?

Are we to believe over 5,000 of the 10,000 UFO reports then in Air Force Blue Book files were U-2s? That should be easy to find in the Blue Book files if that was the case. (Were there ever that many U-2s anyway, flying say, daily, instead of just one every few months? U-2 historical flight schedules have been released, nothing supports AARO’s claims.)

If so, they should be able to come up with at least one U-2 “UFO” misidentification out of the purported 5,000+ U-2 “UFO” reports, one sighting by date. The earliest unfounded AF-planted rumor of a U-2 “UFO” can be documented in 1964 (see below) but in all this time since they can’t at least find one U-2 “UFO”? (An undated hearsay claim that U-2s could sometimes be seen at sunset is not a “misidentification” – no one said it was an alien spaceship or UFO or the like – and it is not a UAP report that was made by anybody to any official agency, not even to Project Blue Book which has nothing on file about that.)

In fact, it is on record that Air Force Project Blue Book Chief Capt. (later Lt Col) Hector Quintanilla first planted the whole false notion of a U-2 “UFO” sighting on Blue Book’s chief scientific consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek and his then-grad student assistant Jacques Vallee on January 16, 1964, when he visited Chicago and briefed them (see Vallee’s published diaries for 1957-1969, p. 101). Quintanilla claimed a U-2 was sighted and “It was reported as a UFO” in 1951, purportedly observed as the U-2 was “on its way to the Soviet Union” – when in fact the U-2 had not even been invented yet in 1951 let alone flown yet (invented and designed in 1953, first flown in 1955, none flown to the Soviet Union until 1956, as anyone can look up).

In tracing the origins of this phony story, it was later in 1964 when the Air Force Foreign Technology Division (FTD), which ran Project Blue Book, planted this bogus U-2 spy plane “UFO” nonsense on the CIA (where one CIA reconnaissance official, James Cunningham, admitted FTD/Blue Book was in frequent contact with them). Air Force FTD apparently tried to suggest to the CIA that the secret U-2 flights accounted for many UAP sightings and, because of the need for secrecy, the public could not be told the U-2 explanation. CIA may have run with it because it boosted the importance and prestige of their U-2 in the aftermath of the humiliating CIA Bay of Pigs disaster – and by about this time, the mind-boggling story was embellished that “more than half” of all UAP reports were due to the U-2, not even weather balloons, Venus, or swamp gas, Blue Book’s usual attempted explanations?

(Knowing how Blue Book and its chief operated back then, from civilian researchers combing through 130,000 pages of Blue Book files and studying badly botched cases, it is very possible that on one date Blue Book happened to receive, say, five supposed “UFO” reports of which, say, three they thought might be of a giant Skyhook balloon, possibly from a classified high-altitude reconnaissance project of some sort. Then someone heard this but got their wires crossed and told someone else down the line of the classic hearsay chain that they thought it was three sightings of a reconnaissance spy “project,” maybe “like” a U-2 spy plane, thus confusing balloons with aircraft, and from there the myth was born. Over “half” – or three out of the five “UFO” reports that day – would have been a balloon; maybe a spy balloon, maybe not, involving perhaps nothing more than a sighting of an ordinary large weather or research balloon. But the “half” statistic for one day would be misheard and massively embellished as half of all 10,000 UAP reports for the decade and beyond. This is sheer speculation but based on the very real, typically careless way Blue Book operated. We may never know the full story.)

AARO Seems Unaware that Air Force Consultant Hynek Laid Foundations of UAP Scientific Investigation

Air Force Project Blue Book’s dirty little secret was that Insufficient Data often really just meant Insufficient Investigation which, if admitted, of course would reflect badly on Blue Book’s performance. Thus the usual tendency in Blue Book’s self-serving strategy was to blame the witness for any failings in investigating their own sighting – as if the witness is expected to be a top-notch PhD scientist. When the typically non-PhD witness failed to provide unequivocal PhD-level data, Blue Book would often triumphantly dismiss the case and claim it as one of their purported “successes.”

Civilian witnesses rarely even claim what they saw was a “UFO” or use the term “UFO,” much less an “alien spacecraft” (most will not even have heard the new term UAP). Most witnesses simply felt a civic duty to notify authorities about a “light” or “object” that was puzzling to them (as Blue Book consultant Hynek would say). That is the objective scientific approach which witnesses weren’t given credit for – reporting what they saw, not presuming to make PhD-level scientific interpretations or judgments of what it was. Military witnesses especially would grasp that the matter might have possible national security or scientific implications. It was inappropriate for the Air Force to insult the intelligence and goodwill of these citizens by dismissing their reports with improbable explanations that often made the witness look foolish. This high-handed and dismissive approach naturally had the effect of reinforcing the stigma and deterring others from coming forward.

The Air Force’s longtime scientific consultant on UAP, Astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, taught that the “UFO” label not be given to a report until after a scientific investigation determines that it has no conventional IFO (Identified Flying Object) or other explanation. But because there is no recognized term for the initial report, the “UFO” label (and now “UAP”) is applied right at the outset for simplicity, and a seemingly redundant qualifier has to be added for cases that pass the Hynek Scientific UFO Screening process to be a “real” UFO, such as the redundant “Unidentified UFO” (Unidentified Unidentified-Flying-Object) or “UFO Unknown.” The process is not followed logically or consistently and the Hynek Screening is treated almost as an afterthought if at all. These issues are not discussed in the AARO report. Most civilian research groups’ UAP reports appear to be “Insufficient Data” mainly because they do not have the resources to investigate them all and so no Hynek Screening is applied.

AARO’s historical account barely mentions the leading role Dr. Hynek played in researching UAP for the Air Force and attempting to implement a meaningful investigative methodology. In the lone paragraph in the section on “Perceived Deception,” Dr. Hynek is referred to merely as an investigator, not as the Air Force’s chief scientific consultant on UAP. Also, the first sentence of the paragraph only refers to public suspicions of “recovered alien craft” and “extraterrestrial beings,” not the government’s overall handling of the UAP issue. It then merely mentions that the Air Force expected him to serve as a “debunker” in a sentence that also briefly mentions that Captain Ruppelt said he was expected to “explain away every report” and align press stories with the Air Force’s public position. Yet in its discussion of Project Blue Book, AARO simply states that the Air Force “determined” that there was “there was no threat to national security, no evidence of extraterrestrial vehicles and “ evidence submitted to, or discovered by, the USAF that sightings represented technological developments or principles beyond the range of present day scientific knowledge.” These conclusions are boldly stated as though there was nothing irregular or controversial about these conclusions. The same is true of AAROs account of the highly controversial Condon report (further details below).

Among other things, Hynek blew the whistle on the Air Force and its Project Blue Book for the “insufficient data” trick, forthrightly insisting that insufficient data cases, including the sneaky “possible/probable” IFO categories, are neither IFO nor proper UFO cases and must be excluded from statistical scorecards as they are insufficient in data (The Hynek UFO Report, 1977, p. 259). The same principle applies to modern UAP cases (“UAP” merely being the new label for UFO). Among other things, AARO should be required to clarify the distinction between Insufficient Data reports and “Insufficient Investigation” (more on Insufficient Data in sections below).

AARO also doesn’t seem to know about Hynek’s classic subdivision of UFO cases into Close Encounters (of three kinds or more), Daylight Discs, Nocturnal Lights, and Radar-Visual cases. AARO’s “complete” history of UAP investigations by the US government seems incomplete without it. There was even a Spielberg movie involving Hynek’s work, called Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

AARO also makes no mention of probably the greatest scientific investigator of UAP of all time, atmospheric physicist Dr James E. McDonald of the University of Arizona. McDonald’s name, along with Hynek’s, is all over the Blue Book records that AARO brags about “completely” reviewing (though AARO seems to have overlooked half of Blue Book’s records).

The prestigious author and scientist Dr. Jacques Vallee was a colleague of Dr. Hynek’s who lived through this period and could have helped AARO enormously, but he was not contacted. Nor was he contacted for comment by the New York Times, Washington Post, or other outlets after AARO’s historical report was released. AARO also does not seem to follow Dr. Hynek’s and Dr. Vallee’s UAP scientific methodology established in the 1960s.

Alleged “40-Year Gap” in Official Investigations of UAP is Due to AARO’s Failure to Properly Document their History from 1969-2009 – Not Even a Mention of the Pivotal 2004 Nimitz Case

The allegedly “complete”, “thorough”, and “accurate” AARO historical report (p. 12) wrongly claims there is “about a 40-year gap in UAP investigation programs since the termination of Project BLUE BOOK in 1969 [sic]”– in other words a 40-year alleged “gap” from 1969 to 2009 (p. 10). (Actually, Blue Book terminated in January 1970, not 1969, another historical error by AARO.)

In reality, the only “40-year gap” is in AARO’s failure to record the history, not a 40-year gap in the existence of US Government investigations and reports of UAP from 1969 to 2009. Somehow AARO managed to slip around the 2004 USS Nimitz incidents, and others that are widespread public knowledge and were investigated by the military (hence AARO can’t use the “it’s classified” excuse to withhold).

AARO certainly knows about the 2004 Nimitz UAP incidents, which were the primary events that led to the current sea change in attitude to UFOs and UAP, leading to the establishment of AARO itself. AARO just inexplicably and unbelievably chooses not to mention the Nimitz anywhere in its Historical Report.

There are numerous USG investigations of UAP easily documented in declassified records, and many published during that purported “40-year gap.” These are only a few representative examples – one can hardly match the AARO manpower of 40+ personnel and multi-million-dollar budget to do the research AARO should have done in the first place.

During the Fall 1973 UAP wave, there were several US military investigations of UAP. These included those conducted by the Navy and Coast Guard involving an underwater UFO or USO (Unidentified Submarine or Submerged Object) near the location of the highly publicized alleged UFO abduction case a month earlier at Pascagoula, Mississippi. Coast Guard personnel sighted the underwater UAP and Navy oceanographer Dr. and Lt Cdr (later RADM) Craig Dorman investigated. (UPI dispatch, Nov. 8, 1973, etc.) This is close to an important recent UAP sighting that occurred over the Gulf of Mexico, which came to Congress’ attention only as a result of a “protected disclosure.” Even then, all but one member of Congress visiting the base for the express purpose of a briefing on this case was denied access to the aircraft’s sensor data.

In October-November 1975 there was a wave of Northern Tier UAP incidents at restricted areas of military bases at Loring AFB, Maine, Malmstrom AFB and Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, Minot AFB, North Dakota, etc., which were investigated by the Air Force and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), as documented in declassified and FOIA-released electronic teletype messages (so the “it’s classified” excuse again can’t be used). Entire open-source books have been written about this (e.g., the Fawcett & Greenwood classic, Clear Intent, 1984).

A key intelligence focal point of investigations on the Northern Tier incident messages was the teletype address “AFINZ,” which turned out to be the Aerospace Intelligence Division of the Air Force Intelligence Service at the Pentagon (not Dayton, Ohio, by the way).

Likewise, NORAD Intelligence and NORAD J3 Aerospace Operations Division and predecessors have been involved with directing UAP investigations throughout the years in the alleged “40-year gap” and from before, back to the 1950s-1960s Blue Book years, and right up to the present (see “NORAD” in Clark, UFO Encyclopedia, 2018, pp. 801-824).

Also, a former Director of USAF Intelligence informed me that in the 1980’s the Air Force undertook a classified UAP collection program in the vicinity of Area 51 in an attempt to ascertain the origin of UAP violating the famous base’s restricted airspace. How come that program was not uncovered by AARO? How many other secret USAF programs related to UAP were not uncovered? Where are those UAP reports and how many others are there from other locations?

There is also no mention by AARO of the successor to Air Force Project Blue Book’s parent organization FTD (Foreign Technology Division), now called NASIC, National Air & Space Intelligence Center. Since NASIC is the Defense Dept.’s primary and central agency for intelligence on air and space threats, NASIC obviously must be involved with UAP today and its UFO / UAP history should be traceable back to FTD / Blue Book in the 1960s.

But AARO does not breathe a word about either the Foreign Technology Division FTD or NASIC in its “complete” and “thorough” history of UAP investigations (even though AAROR mentions the subject of “foreign technology” and “foreign technological threats”, pp. 15, 27).

In 1976 US-equipped Iranian jets chased UAP over Iran, with one UAP reportedly disabling the onboard radar, avionics, and the air-to-air intercept missile of an F-4. This is a famous case, with declassified official US DIA documentation released (so again the “it’s classified” excuse can’t be used), so it seems incomprehensible that AARO would not know about it.

In fact, AARO seems to be unaware of what it wrote in its own report because the “40-year gap” in government UAP investigations from 1969 to 2009 it claimed on Page 10 seems to be contradicted on Page 30, by AARO’s own admission that a nuclear weapons depot UAP case occurred in 1977 (apparently at Loring AFB, Maine) and obviously would have been investigated, and is currently taken seriously by AARO.

AARO also contradicts itself on the purported “40-year gap” in UAP investigations on Pages 21-22 where it reports that the famous Roswell incident was under various Air Force, GAO, Congressional, White House, and other investigations from 1992 to 2001 right in the middle of the alleged “gap” of 1969-2009.

(The claim on AAROR Page 40 that the Roswell incident, as “assessed” by AARO, was due to crash debris of a lost Project Mogul intelligence balloon appears to be another significant factual error by AARO since the alleged Mogul balloon launch on June 4, 1947, had been canceled according to Mogul project scientist records and the balloon equipment cannibalized for a later launch that never got lost but was followed and recovered.)

In 1980 the USAF nuclear weapons storage depot at RAF Bentwaters, England, was probed by a UAP with laser-like beams according to documents and the deputy base commander Col. Charles Halt, who was a personal eyewitness and led the field investigation team. Entire books have been openly published on the highly publicized so-called Rendlesham Forest case including by Col Halt himself. But AARO seems mystifyingly oblivious to the 1980 incidents, instead pushing its narrative of a purported “40-year gap” in UAP investigations from 1969 to 2009.

Also, the report’s claims regarding the lack of impact of AAWSAP and AATIP are clearly belied by their investigation of the Nimitz case, which proved so critical to helping change the views of Congress and the American people regarding UAP.

AARO’s Laundry List of Mostly Irrelevant and Actually Non-Secret “Secret” Projects

AARO tries to dismiss much of the UAP phenomenon with an implausibly expansive secret-project laundry list, including some projects like the Apollo moon landings, which were never secret in the first place.

As noted above, AARO claims that many “UAP sightings were the result of misidentifications of new technologies that observers would have understandably reported as UFOs. Observers unknowingly witnessed and reported as UFOs classified and sensitive programs that AARO assesses most likely were the cause of many UAP reports” (smoothed quote correcting AARO grammar errors etc.: See AAROR, p. 39).

Then AARO lists the Apollo program as one of 28 alleged examples (pp. 40-45). (See previous comments on Apollo.)

In none of these 28 supposed secret classified programs does AARO cite a single UAP report by date or location (the claims regarding early U-2 spy planes are unsupported by evidence, see above).

Besides the surprising and unsubstantiated AARO claim that the first US satellite in 1958, the open and public Explorer 1, somehow caused UAP sightings, there are the bizarre listings of purported “UAP sighting misidentifications” of secret spy satellites belonging to these programs:

    • Navy POPPY
    • NRO’s GAMBIT

but again AARO does not cite an example of a single UAP sighting reported by people misidentifying any of these spy satellites as UAP. So why are they even listed?

Similarly, AARO lists as causing UAP sightings the various stealth and drone aircraft of:

    • HAVE BLUE / F-117
    • B-2 Bomber
    • GNAT 750 drones
    • Predator drones
    • Reaper drones

Yet again, AARO fails to cite an example of a single UAP sighting reported by people misidentifying any of these aircraft and drones as UAP. There are surely some valid examples, but to assert that these programs were a primary source of UAP sightings is unwarranted. Civilian UAP sightings come from all areas of the US, rural, suburban, and urban, not just in the vicinity of US military ranges and bases.

The remaining “secret” projects on AARO’s list are too tedious to go over and include the highly publicized – not “classified and sensitive” – Mercury and Gemini programs that put the first US astronauts into space, and like the Apollo moon landings never caused reported UAP sightings of their space capsules.

AARO makes a point of ostentatiously exposing and knocking down easy strawman claims throughout the report, such as going back to the Blue Book era on the sensational alleged “Navy jet” (no one saw this jet) shooting off a one-pound “metal piece” (no such metal) of a UFO (no one saw) over the Washington, DC, area in July 1952. (AAROR, pp. 20, 26; the one-pound magnesium orthosilicate stone actually found was a rare type of aubrite-enstatite magnesium meteorite, although AARO did not do the research to figure that out.)

Another easy strawman that AARO revels in demolishing is the infamous and long discredited “MJ-12” documents evidently hoaxed by Air Force’s own Office of Special Investigations personnel in the 1980s and 1990s (that Air Force role not mentioned by AARO of course) which appears to be an unlawful covert effort to manipulate US citizens and US public opinion.

Without mentioning the MJ-12 reference in the so-called “1961 Special National Intelligence Estimate” (one of several MJ-12 docs), which would have been a clear tipoff, AARO goes through a showy display of ticking off point after point how badly the document was faked:

AARO found that “the document lacked IC [Intelligence Community] tradecraft standards” and had “significant inconsistencies with SNIE’s … of the [1961] time period,” including “incorrect formatting, inconsistent branding, lack of a dissemination block and coordination language, loose narrative style, convoluted logic, imprecise and casual language, and … [strangely] superficial treatment of globally significant [1961] issues” had it really been written in 1961 instead of being faked in the 1990s. (See AAROR, p. 31, plus added MJ-12 hoax background here not mentioned by AARO.) Does this suggest poor USAF OSI tradecraft?

AARO’s Strained Effort to Deny Early Internal CIA Conclusions of Extraterrestrial UFOs

The AAROR’s representation of CIA involvement seems strained and contrived. Because this is one of only two official government conclusions of extraterrestrial origin of UFOs that AARO claims to find (and then dispute and reject), they go to some effort to try to invent something to explain away and wiggle out from CIA Office of Scientific Intelligence director Dr. H. Marshall Chadwell’s obvious and logically deducible extraterrestrial conclusion, given to CIA Director Gen. Walter B. Smith by classified memo on December 2, 1952 (see quote farther down, right out of AAROR, p. 17).

A third governmental extraterrestrial conclusion completely overlooked by AARO – by Air Force Intelligence, namely the intelligent UFO motions study by Major Dewey Fournet and presented to the CIA Robertson Panel – was missed by AARO despite its widespread reporting in declassified CIA documents and published UAP literature (see “Robertson Panel,” in Clark, UFO Encyclopedia, 2018, p. 1015).

AARO can only speculate that it is just “possible” Chadwell meant only “Soviet” (a 6-letter word Chadwell could easily have written if he meant that and easy for Chadwell’s secretary Mary Jane Carder to have typed). But Soviet threats were the CIA’s job to track, so why leave that word out? “Possible” means it does not rise to the level of “probable” or “certain” and therefore the opposite alternative (ET) of the “possible” (Soviet) is what is very probably true.

In other words, even AARO has to tacitly admit that it is likely CIA scientist Chadwell did mean extraterrestrial.

In case there is any doubt, Chadwell and his deputy Ralph Clark both confirmed in published interviews many years ago that they, the CIA OSI, did briefly conclude that UFOs were extraterrestrial but that the Robertson Panel effectively “overturned” Chadwell’s conclusions (as he put it). They did not know the Air Force had planted on the CIA a stack of Explained IFO cases disguised as the “Best” Unexplained UFO cases (see Table below) so that the CIA Robertson Panel of scientists naturally would find them all explained and thus not even close to being considered extraterrestrial, but worthy of “debunking” to the public instead (see Clark, UFO Encyclopedia, 2018, p. 1013a.)

As quoted by AARO (p. 17), Dr. Chadwell told the CIA Director he was convinced that “something was going on that must have immediate attention,” and that “sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and traveling at high speeds in the vicinity of major U.S. defense installations are of such nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or known types of aerial vehicles.” In other words, not Natural, not known (human) Terrestrial aerial vehicles, so what does that obviously leave but Extraterrestrial? Clearly, these were not classified US aircraft programs.

AARO’s handling of the CIA Special Study Group of (August) 1952 is perhaps the most error-ridden in the entire AARO Report (pp. 16-17), as it appears just about everything is completely wrong, even the dates and the names of CIA personnel and Group members, and omission of bombshell facts.  AAROR implies that the Group continued from summer until December 1952 when in fact it was in operation less than one month in order to brief the CIA Director on August 20, 1952.

This was so that the CIA Director in turn could brief the President on UAP on August 22, 1952, a fact of stunning importance.  It was the President who ordered the CIA investigation of the Air Force mishandling of UAP in the first place on July 28 after two weekends of worldwide bad publicity showing the Air Force unable to control the skies from invading UAP flying over Washington, DC, Air Force jets unable to stop the UAP — a highly relevant and dramatic fact utterly omitted by AARO.  (See “Robertson Panel,” UFO Encyclopedia, 2018.)

AARO is flat wrong not only about the date of the CIA Special Study Group but even gets the names of all the CIA personnel wrong. Omitting all mention of the President and the CIA Director, AARO insinuates the Group was created solely on the initiative of the CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI) Robert Amory Jr. but got the name or person wrong since in 1952 the DDI was Loftus E. Becker (Amory became DDI in 1953). Contrary to AARO, this Special Study Group on UAP was not formed and tasked under the Physics & Electronics Division of the CIA Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) but under the secretive OSI Operations Staff.

The Physics & Electronics Division’s USAF Maj. A. Ray Gordon was not the “lead” or any part of the Ops Staff’s Special Study Group. In fact, it was only two weeks after the Special Study Group was already in operation and had visited Blue Book, that the P&E Division was clued in on the subject and Maj. Gordon was first assigned by P&E Division to be the point person or “project officer” on UAP within the Division — hence the apparent source of AARO’s confusion of the two separate OSI groups dealing with UAP.

The Robertson Panel Minutes clearly identify the Group as consisting of “Strong, Eng, Durant” (not Maj. Gordon) two of whom have been interviewed by researchers over the years and who confirmed the obvious facts also found of course in declassified CIA documents AARO missed — the Group was formed within the OSI Operations Staff headed by Brig.Gen. Philip G. Strong, USMCR.

Somehow AARO managed to entirely miss the CIA Special Group’s finding that the Air Force UAP intelligence effort at Project Blue Book was a complete failure.  The Group’s expert in the intelligence process, Ransom L. Eng, as part of the Group, personally visited Blue Book and its parent organization ATIC at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio.  Eng found that the Air Force’s Project Blue Book UAP effort failed all 4 stages of the intelligence process —  Failed at Intelligence Collection, Failed at Analysis, Failed at Production, Failed at Dissemination.

The Special Study Group and Eng told CIA Director Walter B. Smith, Gen., USA, on August 20, 1952, at a CIA-wide briefing, that the “entire Air Force” had a “world-wide reporting system and [jet] interception program” against UAP but which generates a “flood of reports on unidentified flying objects” that comes to an inadequate “small group” with “low level of support … on a minimal basis” of only 5 personnel at Blue Book who clearly could not deal with the huge volume of UAP reports.  The UAP reports were made from a 10-question report form that was “inadequate even for the limited case-history approach.”  That’s the Intelligence Collection failure.

Then Eng said the all-important Analysis phase was of “extremely limited scope” where the Air Force used a laborious one-by-one “individual case” or “case history” system of handling, using no computer punch cards or “other standard method of processing data” to speed the process of explaining and identifying the Explained (or IFO) cases and the Unexplained cases.  But once that was done, Eng pointed out the Air Force did no trend studies, no pattern analysis nor any other of “a number accepted research techniques … in any effort to gain a sound understanding of these phenomena.”

But Eng noted ominously that Blue Book had “laboriously” plotted the Unexplained UAP cases by hand on a map and the “plots show a high incidence of reported [UAP] cases near atomic installations and Strategic Air Command [SAC] bases” but Blue Book tried to downplay it.  The Air Force failed to mention to the CIA Group that the new incoming Air Force Director of Intelligence Maj. Gen. John Samford himself was shown the Unexplained UAP map in December 1951 displaying UAP concentrated around nuclear bases and SAC bases.  Gen. Samford was so disturbed he ordered a major investigation of the mapped UAP nuclear/SAC concentrations using computers at the AF’s Battelle Memorial Institute contractor codenamed Project Stork (which AARO botched as to its name, wrongly calling it “Project BEAR”). Here was a potential national security threat from UAP and the Air Force was misleading the CIA about it.

Eng concluded that the Air Force failed the Analysis phase and thus all phases of the intelligence process by failing to carry out the essential “well planned and properly guided research program” to solve the mystery of what the UAPs were and help prevent any national security threat. Once Blue Book failed with Analysis it automatically failed with subsequent Production of reports of failed analysis and Dissemination of those reports of failed analysis to intelligence consumers and policymakers, thus total failure on all 4 phases of the intelligence cycle. (The CIA team was never told by the Air Force that the AF ran a more competent UAP intelligence analysis and investigation operation at its Directorate of Intelligence at the Pentagon, not at Dayton, and that Blue Book in Dayton was being reduced from an intelligence activity to a mere Public Relations front over the next six months, by orders of Gen. Samford, AF Director of Intelligence at the Pentagon, on July 28, 1952.)

Eng and the Special Group thus urged the establishment by the CIA of a major ongoing, permanent scientific UAP research program conducted by MIT at its Project Lincoln radar air defense laboratory, which the CIA continued to work towards — until the AF derailed CIA with the now-infamous Robertson Panel.  The AF forced the rush-to-judgment, hurried merely 4-day Panel of scientists on the CIA OSI in the weeks leading up to January 1953, which OSI repeatedly tried to stop, stall, and postpone, but got overruled via AF pressure on the CIA Director.  The AF even manipulated the evidence by falsely submitting Explained IFO cases dressed up as Best Unexplained cases so they would fall apart in front of the Panel.  None of this salient history was mentioned by AARO (see “Robertson Panel,” UFO Encyclopedia, 2018).

Surprisingly, Most AARO Cases are Unexplained, 62% as of Aug. 30, 2022

It appears that the latest AARO figures for unexplained UAP cases work out to 62%, as of August 30, 2022, since the current AARO historical report of February 2024 gives no figures.

These statistics are actually a worse failure to “resolve” UAP than the debunking “scientific” Air Force Condon Report study which tried to hide its approximately 34% Unexplained rate (see later below), and much much worse than AARO’s forerunner AF Project Blue Book whose final numbers in 1970 were 6% Unidentified, which the AF considered a success in “getting rid” of the UFO (as AF chief Blue Book scientist consultant Hynek put it).

AARO’s 2022 Annual Report reported 510 total UAP cases, of which 171 of the 366 new post-Task Force cases were “uncharacterized and unattributed” (p. 5). This seems to be a brand new name for “unidentified” (see the UAP Reporting Directive May 2023 para. 3.B.6) though the Annual Report tries to suggest it is a more preliminary “initial” category than either “positively resolved” or “unidentified.” Unfortunately, it does not define these terms in the AARO Report.

However, AARO’s UAP Reporting Directive of May 2023 belies their effort to minimize this new “unattributed” category label, by defining in paragraph 3.B.6 that “UAP ATTRIBUTION is the assessed natural or artificial source of the phenomenon and includes solar, weather, tidal events; US government, scientific, industry, and private activities; and foreign (allied or adversary) government, scientific, industry, and private activities.” That seems to indicate that “attribution” is not some “initial” cursory impression but a thorough “assessment,” hence like the identification process that would lead to “identified” or “unidentified.”

The AARO Annual Report seems to conveniently fail to mention that when these new 171 unidentified UAP reports are added to the previous UAP Task Force’s 143 unidentified, the grand total of 314 unidentified out of 510 represents a formidable 62% unexplained/unidentified.

AARO makes no mention at all of this statistic of 62% unexplained. The reader would be required to know the AARO predecessor’s UAP Task Force stats, add the numbers, and do the calculations of percentage – which almost no one will even realize needs to be done.

AARO admits its January 2023 Annual report (for 2022) had revealed that “some” of the (171) unidentified UAP “demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities.” (AAROR p. 26, omits the “171” number given in the AARO Jan 2023 report, p. 5, and neither report says how many were “some.”)

This is the core element of any basic definition of a truly Unexplained UFO or UAP: unusual flight characteristics/performance along with unconventional shape (the definition can be traced as far back as Air Force UFO reporting directives in 1948-49). AARO does not single this out for much attention nor give exact statistics.

The 2024 AARO report avoids all mention of its predecessor UAP Task Force’s remarkable pro-UAP statistics of 99.3% Unidentified, including at least 56% involving multiple sensor systems which would eliminate sensor errors and conventional IFO explanations (stats all omitted in AAROR p. 24).

No AARO mention is made of either the 99.3% unidentified or the succeeding 62% unidentified number, the latest exact percentage (by calculation) deducible from exact AARO case numbers (see next section trying to numerically pin down AARO’s subsequent vague “majority” wording). The total caseload percentage of unexplained does not seem to be dropping much further if at all, given that AARO continues in 2023 and 2024 to repeatedly use the same vague “majority” term for the explained case fraction, conveniently without numbers. Presumably, if it had dropped significantly AARO would likely have highlighted this or at least set the record straight.

Disentangling AARO’s Obscure Statistics Reveals an Annual Near Doubling of Total Unexplained UAP (from 143 to 314 to ca. 600 Cumulative Total Reports)!

As mentioned above, AARO’s predecessor UAP Task Force had a total of 143 Unexplained UAP cases as of March 2021. This was more than doubled to a cumulative total of 314 unexplained in the first AARO Annual Report as of August 2022. Now it appears that the number may nearly double again to about 600 unexplained in 2024 (see table below). Unfortunately, due to a lack of clarity or transparency, we are forced to analyze and disentangle AARO’s obfuscated UAP statistics in order to deduce this.

UAP report

Interestingly, the October 2023 AARO “Consolidated Annual Report” (or “AARO Cons” for short) to Congress on UAP, makes the Blue Book-style prediction that:

“Based on the ability to resolve cases to date, with an increase in the quality of data secured, the unidentified and purported anomalous nature of most UAP will likely resolve to ordinary phenomena and significantly reduce the amount of UAP case submissions [i.e., apparently discourage making of UAP reports].”

But each year or so, the total cumulative number of unidentified anomalous UAP reports increased from 143 to 314 to 600. That suggests that each year or so the added new reports with supposedly better “quality of data” were more unexplainable not more resolved with the better data. A later obscure statement in the AARO Cons report admits that AARO has not been able to explain away its UAP case backlog (the excuse being a “lack of data,” but perhaps really a lack of investigation?) hence the new cases with better data are not helping AARO, they’re still highly unexplainable (AARO Cons., Oct. 2023, p. 8).

Once again, history repeats itself. During Project Blue Book the Air Force repeatedly suggested that the primary problem in identifying and explaining UAP was lack of quality data, when often the reverse was true. When Blue Book sorted UAP cases into categories based on the quality of data, its ability to find conventional explanations steadily decreased as the quality of the witnesses and data increased (see table below from data in Blue Book Special Report 14).

UAP report

Because there is no mention in the 2024 AARO report of even its alleged current 2024 caseload of 1,200 UAP cases – a number shared by AARO Acting Director Tim Phillips with CNN on March 6, 2024 – the next most recent stats with any kind of hint at an explained/unexplained breakdown we can find are in the previous AARO Annual Reports: the October 2023 AARO Report and the belated 2022 Annual UAP Report to Congress of January 2023 (a confusing array of dates and reports).

The January 2023 report gives the breakdown of only the new cases, with the numbers if one adds them up, 195-to-171 explained-to-unexplained or 53-47% (of the new, not of the total caseload), calling it “more than half,” language that subsequent AARO reports have blurred into the more vague single word “majority.” Both the October 2023 and 2024 AARO reports thus have similar language stating that an apparently bare “majority” of the UAP reports were explained, and some of the remaining “anomalous.”

Then the 2024 AARO report in effect adopts the bare “majority” language as the current UAP status, implying a roughly 51-49% type breakdown (possibly even the same 53-47% ratio as the previous new cases, in view of the vagueness). By implication, AARO seems to broadly apply the older reports’ fuzzy breakdown to the final UAP 2024 situational wrap-up in this current 2024 AARO report. AARO thus admits in subdued non-numerical language the surprising fact that nearly half of its UAP caseload is still unexplained today or does not “have an ordinary explanation” – thus seeming to undermine its position. (AAROR pp. 25-26; similar statement in AARO Cons., Oct 2023, p. 8) It would be helpful in the future if AARO would clarify the data and present the actual numbers.

Presumably, the current 2024 numbers are close to this implied 51-49% split of Explained-Unexplained, or AARO would have said differently and given us the exact figures in the AARO report. (The AARO official website does not help, it gives UAP Reporting Trends from cases 1996 to November 20, 2023, including percentages of shapes (“morphology”) of UAP but for some reason gives no numbers of total cases or percentages of cases resolved or explained – much more important numbers insofar as rating AARO’s mission performance and assessing the level of UAP activity being encountered by DoD and the IC.)

In any case, if applied to the current UAP total then there may be close to 600 Unexplained in the 1,200 UAP reports total in March 2024 (and this does not account for AARO sweeping away Insufficient Data cases as if fully explained as Blue Book did in the past, which might push the 600 Unexplained still higher depending on the definition of Insufficient Data being applied consistently). If so, then this represents almost a doubling of the 314 unexplained cases from August 2022 (a figure AARO also omits). And that 314 unexplained was a more-than doubling from the previous 143 unexplained.

If the stats were much better than this from AARO’s viewpoint, they would likely have said so. AARO had plenty of room – and months of time remaining before the report was due to Congress – to provide explicit numbers in its historical report.

Why are we forced to resort to guessing games on nuances of AARO’s language? Why doesn’t AARO release the statistics openly and transparently?

In still another revealing statistical admission worded in non-numerical language, AARO admits, as mentioned above, that “A small percentage of cases have potentially anomalous characteristics or concerning characteristics.” (AAROR p. 26)

What exactly is that “small percentage” numerically, what exactly do they mean by “small” and are they understating and minimizing it in various ways? What is a “concerning” characteristic? A national security threat? A danger to air safety?

Is this “small percentage” the same category for which AARO then-Director Kirkpatrick gave CNN some UAP stats in October 2023 not found in the formal AARO Cons Annual Report just then released? Kirkpatrick said that 2-4% of the cases are “truly anomalous and require further investigation” (he had also previously given that same ambiguous figure to the media). Why the uncertainty of 2% or 4%? That is a double-factor uncertainty. Is there a “moderately” anomalous category below “truly anomalous” at AARO and what percentage of Unexplained or Total UAP cases might fall into that category?

The AARO 2022 Annual Report uses an interesting new term, “unknown morphologies” (= unknown shapes?), and says such “interesting signatures” are found “only in a very small percentage” of cases – as if stressing the “very small” number makes it better, as in old Air Force Project Blue Book debunker fashion that it was just a little ways to go to be completely explained away (AARO Jan 2023, p.8). How can a shape be “unknown”? Either one sees a shape or not.

It all adds up to a profound mystery that AARO seems to be deliberately obscuring if not obfuscating.

AARO is Playing the Same Games with Data as Old UFO Project Blue Book – Flooding its Files with Insufficient Data Cases

It appears that AARO has adopted the old Air Force Project Blue Book’s strategy of flooding their case files with Insufficient Data cases wrongly claimed to be explained. But if there are insufficient data to explain a UFO case or cases, then they are by definition unexplained. However, as Hynek taught, these don’t rate as “officially” Unexplained either, because that requires fully Sufficient Data and must go through IFO screening investigation. “Insufficient Data” does not identify an object or its cause, it says there is not enough data to do so. This AARO policy of caseload dilution with Insufficient Data reverses its predecessor UAP Task Force’s smart approach of selecting higher quality “focused” UAP cases with an emphasis on multi-sensor incidents (80 of the initial 144 UAPTF cases or 56%) which yielded only one IFO out of 144.

And unlike Blue Book, AARO does not even bother to give a breakdown of the status of the current 1,200 UAP cases on file that AARO’s new Acting Director Tim Phillips told the media about but strangely are not mentioned in AARO’s Historical Report. Perhaps AARO doesn’t want anyone to focus on numbers – specific numbers involving the alleged “assessed” UAP identifications instead of vague generalities.

Where are the UAP cases with data so that scientists can independently verify AARO’s conclusions, which is the core of the scientific process?

If the government favors transparency as it claims, why is it that not even redacted UAP case files are being released? Why is it that after the Navy Go Fast, FLIR, and Gimbal videos were confirmed to be unclassified other videos of precisely the same kind, obtained over US training ranges, are still being withheld? I know this to be the case because I’ve seen one of the unreleased videos and raised this issue directly with DoD. I initially got a polite reply and an assurance the matter would be reviewed, but months have passed and I’ve heard nothing further. Unsurprisingly, nothing further has occurred. And why is it that Customs and Border Patrol official IR videos can be released without damage to national security, but not similar DoD videos? I’m confident that with over 1,000 new cases there must be others like “Gimbal”, “Flir” and “Go Fast” that have not been released.

AARO appears to be the “New Blue Book,” trying to “get rid” of UAP just like the old Air Force Project Blue Book in its heyday of the 1960s strived to “get rid” of UFOs by every trick in the (blue) book (Hynek UFO Report, ch. 3). In sum, with great irony, AARO seems to repeat some of the same methodological errors and mistakes that undermined the credibility of the historical UAP investigation it is reporting. These appear to include:

    • misuse or obfuscation of objective statistics;
    • mislabeling or treating Insufficient Data cases as fully solved (when by definition “insufficient” means insufficient data to positively solve);
    • floating bogus stories of UFO witness mistakes to distract from the real issues;
    • flooding case files with poor data + insufficient data + Identified “IFO” cases to drown out and conceal the genuine Unexplained UFO cases, etc.

AARO’s methodology for UAP case handling is murky (confusing and inconsistent use of language, undefined terminology, etc), making it necessary to piece together hints from across multiple AARO reports, rather than just the latest 63-page report. No copies of formal AARO Analytic Division UAP case handling procedure and methodology documents have been released either; perhaps because there aren’t any.

“Insufficient Data” Does Not Mean “Identified” – It Means Insufficient to Identify a UAP Positively

How often is “insufficient data” actually a result of insufficient investigation? Sweeping investigatory failures under the carpet was a routine practice of AARO’s forerunner, the USAF Project Blue Book of the 1950s-60s. Blue Book’s standard trick as exposed by its own chief scientific consultant, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, was to make it appear the Air Force had disposed of 90-95% of its UFO caseload not with actual data, but by flooding its case files with 60% or more Insufficient Data cases and casually applying convenient but implausible and unsupported explanations. The Air Force has released or leaked to the press bogus UFO “explanations” such as stars that were not visible, moon-as-UFO when the moon had not even risen yet, the pilot was “possibly drunk,” etc (See Clark, “Debunking,” UFO Encyclopedia, 2018, pp. 379-400).

This happened time and time again, often leaving witnesses embarrassed or understandably angry. So much so that in one case in 1966, Rep. Gerald Ford blasted the Air Force and sought Congressional hearings after sightings by police of fast high-flying objects in the Dexter, Michigan, area were dismissed by the Air Force as “swamp gas.” A mismatch between proffered Air Force explanations and the data submitted by witnesses was a recurring issue.

It appears that some 60% of Blue Book’s cases were in reality Insufficient Data (not just Blue Book’s understated 20% category labeled “Insufficient Data”) – because there was simply not enough info to go beyond guessing at “possible” or “probable” explanations to achieve certainty. The remaining 40% of Sufficient Data cases broke down into approximately 10%—30%, identified—unidentified. The unidentified were therefore a surprising 70-75% Unexplained Unknowns in the total Sufficient Data cases (30/40 = 75%, all numbers here are rounded).

As indicated above, Blue Book went further and tried to conceal this statistical shell game by carving out a much smaller 20% category they called “Insufficient Data” – a misdirect that obscured the fact that Blue Book did not sufficiently investigate the other 40% of the total cases and that the total Insufficient Data should have been stated as about 60%. These Possible/Probables were treated as fully explained IFOs instead of as Insufficient-Data. (See Hynek UFO Report, 1977, p. 259, etc.)

AARO Tries to Gloss Over Sensor Tracking of UAP

AARO tries to brush aside sensor tracking of UAP on the flimsy grounds of sensor “aberrations” and “artifacts” (AAROR p. 12; media reports call them “glitches”; previous AARO reports call them sensor “errors”). This is untenable if multiple sensors track the same UAP, like infrared and radar such as in the ATFLIR sensor pod videos by the Navy F/A-18s that most everyone concerned with the UAP issue has seen by now (probably at least 50 million video views to date).

In fact, AARO seems to ignore its own data showing they have reduced the problem of “Ambiguous Sensor Contact” with UAP in its caseload from 23% to 9% from April to November 2023 – it’s on AARO’s website but not mentioned in AARO’s report. (The earlier AARO annual report did show a 5% Ambiguous Sensor Contact figure as of Aug. 2022 based mostly on the Navy UAP Task Force’s work, before the April 2023 worsening increase under AARO to 23%.)

That 9% “Ambiguous Sensor Contact” figure means the other 91% of AARO’s current case files of sensor trackings of UAP are good data and are not “ambiguous.” This would appear to undermine attempts at downplaying or dismissing sensor trackings of UAP as must be due to some sort of speculative sensor “artifacts.” Cases involving multiple sensors can overcome sensor error so that any sensor that has an error is corrected by the other sensors that do not. Sensors operating at different frequencies on different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum will not all be fooled by electronic spoofing at the same time.

AARO withholds its multiple-sensor case numbers – unlike its predecessor UAP Task Force that reported it had 56% of all cases as multiple-sensor cases including two or more sensors tracking the same UAP at the same time by “radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers, and visual observation” (UAPTF June 2021, pp. 3-4). No wonder UAPTF had 99.3% Unexplained cases – good data and no terrestrial explanations.

AARO then complains about the lack of data regarding “speed, altitude, and size of reported UAP” (AAROR, p. 27), even though many of its cases have measurement data from multiple sensors (e.g., radar-infrared-optical F/A-18 cases). The complaint harkens back to Air Force Project Blue Book’s similarly unsupported complaint over the alleged lack of measured “speed, altitude, size” data on UFOs (The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, the ex-Blue Book Chief Ruppelt’s 1956 book, pp. 116-7, 149, 201, 212, 224, etc.). Meanwhile, Blue Book buried any mention of tracking data resident in Blue Book files from missile tracking cameras, radar-visual cases, and from an Army UAP tracking network specially set up around the top secret “Site B” nuclear weapons stockpile depot at Killeen Base, Camp Hood, Texas (see section, below, with sample chart illustrating some of the Army UAP tracking).

In AARO’s boasted “thorough” and “complete” reporting of past UAP investigations (AAROR p. 12), there is no mention of the existence of the AF’s special AF-Army-Navy/Marine multiple-sensor UFO tracking networks set up at multiple sites in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War in 1968-70. Declassified military histories reveal over 500UFO” trackings on radar, optical, laser-ranging, nightscope, telescope, and infrared sensor systems, with 99% Unexplained (Declassified military histories: “Sensor Networks to Track UFOs in the Vietnam War,” UFO Encyclopedia, 2018, pp. 1050-1054).

AARO’s highly selective treatment of the Condon Report also from the AF’s UFO contract study at the University of Colorado, managed to studiously avoid the widely reported criticism that the Condon Report’s negative conclusions were contradicted by the embarrassing unmentioned fact that 34% of its own UAP cases remained Unexplained after investigation – as numerous scientists have pointed out in criticism of the Condon Report’s anti-UFO conclusions. (Someone in effect slipped up and put an easy list of the “Sightings, Unexplained” in the back Index of the published Condon Report, in 1969, where about 26 such Unexplained cases are listed, in addition to listing another 4 radar cases, 1 airglow photometer case, 3 numbered cases missed, and an uncertain number–about two–of the 14 unexplained Prairie Network-confirmed cases not overlapping with the preceding, totaling some 36 out of a grand total of about 106, or about 34%. Different tallies of the obfuscated Condon Report case numbers come up with slightly different numbers. See for example: W. Smith, Journal of UFO Studies, CUFOS, 1996). AARO fails to mention that 14 of the Condon study’s Unexplained UFO cases were backed up by photos taken by the astronomical meteor-tracking cameras of the Smithsonian’s Prairie Network system, an unprecedented scientific development.

There is also no mention of Dr. Condon’s obvious, non-scientific bias, which may have been the reason he was selected by the Air Force to chair the eponymous Commission. In late January 1967, while the Condon Committee’s investigation was ongoing, Dr. Condon tipped his hand, telling an audience at a lecture that UFOs are “nonsense” but “I’m not supposed to reach that conclusion for another year.” Once again, serious issues well-known to any UAP researcher are not included in the AARO report.

Likewise, AARO seems unaware of the new Over the Horizon – Forward Scatter (OTH-FS) radars turned over to NORAD for operational duty in March 1968 which immediately began tracking UAP. This was revealed in the House Science & Astronautics UFO Symposium hearings on July 29, 1968, and published, but despite being open source history it never made it into AARO’s “complete” and “thorough” history (“NORAD” in Clark, UFO Encyclopedia, 2018, p. 811b).

No Mention of the Scientist Sightings of UAP or Instrumentation Cases

No mention is made by AARO that many scientists, including government scientists, astronomers, physicists, and others have personally seen UFOs, some obtaining instrument data and photos. AARO never mentions unclassified instrument tracking of UAP in the Blue Book files and other Air Force declassified records (AARO can’t claim that released sensor data is “classified”).

No mention that 14 Unexplained UFO cases in the hostile Air Force University of Colorado “scientific study of UFOs” were photographed and confirmed by the Smithsonian Prairie Network scientific meteor-tracking cameras (another 6 caught on meteor cameras were IFOs). The Colorado study tried to bury it in its infamous Condon Report, but it’s identifiable if one looks at and studies the summary data table with skewed and misleading definitions.

It appears AARO didn’t look. Another scientist UAP instrument detection by airglow scanning photometer is also an Unexplained UFO in the Condon Report, which concealed the fact that an embarrassing 34% of its cases ended up Unexplained (as mentioned above).

The Air Force set up UAP tracking networks in South Vietnam with multiple sensor systems during the war in 1968-70, as revealed in many declassified military histories (mentioned before). But AARO seems ignorant of it.

UAP report
Army UAP Tracking Network Record AARO Missed Finding in the Blue Book Files, March 6-8, 1949 (Site B Nuclear Weapons Stockpile, Killeen Base, Camp Hood, Texas). Later cases included triangulations of speed, size, and altitude data on UAP.

Does AARO Admit Some “Non-Empirical” Evidence of Extraterrestrials?

AARO’s two key conclusions, as presented at the top of its report’s Executive Summary, state:

AARO found no evidence that any USG investigation, academic-sponsored research, or official review panel has confirmed that any sighting of a UAP represented extraterrestrial technology.

AARO has found no empirical evidence for claims that the USG and private companies have been reverse-engineering extraterrestrial technology.

(AAROR Exec Summary p. 7, underlining added.)

If there is not a blanket AARO denial saying “no evidence” of extraterrestrial UAP sightings, but only a more limited, qualified denial stating “no empirical evidence” (physical evidence) of reverse-engineering extraterrestrial tech, then what non-empirical evidence does AARO have? Empirical means physical evidence and reality of objects and events, not human records of such, which records are presumably non-empirical evidence.

Is this an innocent ambiguity or an inadvertent admission that AARO has non-empirical evidence, such as documentary records or witness testimony, of reverse-engineering efforts on recovered extraterrestrial technology?

Interestingly, AARO claims to have “conducted approximately 30 interviews” of “approximately 30 people” (pp. 6, 11), and quite specifically “As of September 17, 2023, AARO interviewed approximately 30 individuals” who claimed knowledge of hidden government extraterrestrial technology and evidence (AAROR, p. 28). Don’t they know exactly how many people they interviewed, was it 30 or not?

AARO is quick to stress that “It is important to note that none of the interviewees had firsthand knowledge of these programs” (p. 9).

But this seems to be contradicted later when AARO explains that “Priority is given to those interviewees who claimed first-hand knowledge… Interviewees relaying second or third-hand knowledge are lower in priority, but AARO has and will continue to schedule interviews with them, nonetheless.” (AAROR, p. 28) AARO thus makes it seem they are reluctant to “continue to schedule interviews” with “secondhand or thirdhand” witnesses because they are so occupied with high-priority firsthand witnesses.

AARO Fails to Define What Evidence it Would Accept for Extraterrestrial UAP

AARO also fails to define what evidence is required to establish extraterrestrial intelligence visiting Earth. Would multiple sensors tracking an object from high altitude or space that stops and starts with accelerations of >1000 g’s be at least a starting definition of evidence for non-human or extraterrestrial intelligence? (See Robert Powell/SCU critique of AAROR.) Likewise, AARO complains more broadly that it needs “Sufficient Data” in UAP cases, then never explains exactly what is considered “sufficient” (AARO Cons Report Oct 2023, p. 8).

Does it require direct communication with extraterrestrial intelligence to satisfy AARO’s unstated but seemingly shifting definition of “evidence” (see below)? What if the ETs simply refuse to communicate; do we just pretend to ignore them until they do? Is that a responsible operational defense posture or intelligence collection and analysis policy?

What radio signals have been received from UAP in the reports AARO has collected? AARO’s briefing slides to Congress and on its website state that it has cases of UAP-transmitted radio signals in the 1-3 and 8-12 GHz frequency bands (completely separate and different from UAP radar beams at 1-8 GHz, also listed). This has been briefed to Congress and listed in AARO Reporting Trends slides of “Typically-Reported UAP Characteristics” – but is never mentioned in the AARO Report.

Are these UAP Radio Signals a communication? What analysis of these signals has been undertaken? Has Congress been informed of the findings? The AARO Report also ignores a long history back to 1950 of UAP transmitting radio signals and radar beams and even replying to IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) interrogation signals transmitted to the UAP by ground-based US radar stations (see “UFO IFF” and “NORAD National Alert” articles in Clark’s UFO Encyclopedia, 2018, pp. 814-824, 1155-6).

Does extraterrestrial evidence require beyond-terrestrial technological capabilities (the “extra” in “extraterrestrial”)? Does sensor data suffice or must physical samples be obtained? What about AARO’s October 2023 Consolidated Annual UAP Report which mentions “some cases” of UAP with “high-speed travel and unusual maneuverability” (p.2), and “very small percentage” with “high-speed travel and unusual morphologies” (p. 8), none of which are mentioned in AARO’s current historical report (unless it’s in the classified version).

The earlier UAP Task Force reported that 15% of its reports were of “unusual UAP movement patterns or flight characteristics” including “demonstrating UAP acceleration or a degree of signature management” (the latter meaning the UAP’s apparent use of electromagnetic signature reduction as a means of “camouflage” for purposes of lowering detectability, effectively a form of stealth) in mid-flight. Taken together, these terms evidently convey, at minimum, the UAP’s ability to “remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion” (UAPTF June 2021, p. 5).

In October 2023 the AARO then-director Sean Kirkpatrick told CNN that about 2% to 4% of his cases were “truly anomalous” – possibly referring to his just-released report’s reference to “unknown morphologies” (meaning “unknown shapes”) and “interesting signatures” not otherwise defined in the report.

UAP report

These are tantalizing and provocative admissions by AARO and its predecessor, but what do they mean in terms of meeting AARO’s unspoken requirements for “evidence”?

AARO’s report displays a constant shifting of ill-defined goalposts for what it deems to be “evidence,” etc. First, there is plain “evidence” then “empirical evidence,” then there is “convincing evidence” (is “empirical evidence” not quite “convincing”?). AARO refers to “verifiable information” as if to contrast it with “empirical evidence” (AAROR, p. 35) thus raising the question, is “empirical evidence” not empirically “verifiable information” by itself? And AARO speaks of “actionable data” as conveniently undefined and not distinguished from other types of data or “evidence.” And beyond that, there are “actionable, researchable data.”

The common denominator in these shifting vague pseudo-definitions of what is required for UAP evidence is that they seem intended to ensure genuine anomalies are minimized in favor of prosaic explanations, no matter how implausible.

Nothing by AARO on the Government “Stigma” Put on the UAP Subject; No Discussion, No History, Despite its Critical Importance

AARO does not even mention the word “stigma” anywhere in this report, except buried in a passing reference to the UAP Task Force helping “destigmatize” reporting of UAP though not the subject of UAP (AAROR, p. 24).

This is despite the historical importance of the “stigma” deliberately attached to the UFO subject by the US government – principally by the Air Force – that is widely cited by the media and witnesses testifying before Congress. The critical importance of stigma and the problems it has created in hampering and crippling UAP research and investigation are undeniable.

As AARO’s predecessor UAP Task Force stated in its “Preliminary Report to Congress” submitted in June of 2021 (p. 4):

“Narratives from aviators in the operational community and analysts from the military and IC describe disparagement associated with observing UAP, reporting it, or attempting to discuss it with colleagues…. [T]hese stigmas have … reputational risk [that] may keep many observers silent, complicating scientific pursuit of the [UAP] topic.”

The “stigma” attached to the UFO topic as applied by the government appears to have included abuses that AARO was legally required to investigate in its Historical Report – but did not. Specifically, the Historical Report was required to:

“(ii) include a compilation and itemization of the key historical record of the involvement of the intelligence community with unidentified anomalous phenomena [UAP], including— …

“(III) any efforts to obfuscate, manipulate public opinion, hide, or otherwise provide incorrect unclassified or classified information about unidentified anomalous phenomena [UAP] or related activities.” [NDAA FY23 Sec. 6802(j)(1)(B); 50 U.S. Code § 3373(j)(1)(B)]

As mentioned above, AARO failed to compile, itemize, and report on US intelligence agency abuses of UAP witnesses and others. The one tiny item dismissive of vague public perceptions of the Air Force’s UFO “debunker” abuse (AAROR, p. 38) does not document its long history as was required by law in NDAA FY23 and 50 U.S. Code § 3373 cited above.

AARO made no effort to compile the history of the Intelligence Community’s efforts to “obfuscate” or “hide” UAP information through excessive secrecy, as noted before.

Air Force Intelligence “efforts to … obfuscate [and] manipulate public opinion” on UFOs since the 1950s are primarily what caused the harsh stigma attached to the entire UFO subject in society. But this anti-UFO stigma is not investigated or historically documented by AARO – or even mentioned – contrary to its legal obligation.

This is despite the public admission by former USAF OSI officer Richard Doty that his official assignments included spying on US civilian UAP researchers and breaking into a private home, spreading disinformation about UAP, misinforming two US Senators, and spreading fake UFO documents including some so-called “MJ-12” documents that turned out to be a hoax (Doty radio interview Feb. 27, 2005; see Rojas, “Open Letter,” posting May 6, 2014, OpenMinds). Much more evidence could be cited of similar stigma-inducing covert government actions besides the public debunking and shaming of innocent UAP witnesses and civilian investigators (see “Debunking and Debunkery,” Clark, UFO Encyclopedia, 2018, pp. 379-400).

AARO’s Non-Disclosure of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

The AARO report states that it asked DoD and IC organizations to review their files for any NDAs related to UAP and none were reported (AAROR, pp. 7, 30). Had AARO actually reviewed AFOSI NDAs themselves, rather than delegating the task, they might have reached a different conclusion.

For example, I was informed by a former member of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Investigation Program (AATIP / AAWSAP) that when he requested the opportunity to interview the two F-16 pilots involved in the famous Stephenville, TX, 2008 UAP case, both pilots replied that they could not discuss the matter because they had signed USAF NDAs. It ought to be possible to run this to the ground either by contacting the pilots or searching AFOSI records.

In another instance, a former USAF Air Traffic controller told me she and her colleagues signed OSI NDAs after reporting a black triangular UAP hovering over a nuclear weapons storage facility at Barksdale AFB. Subsequently, AFOSI officers asked them to sign NDAs, explaining that they had seen a highly classified US weapons system they were not cleared for (the secret weapons program ruse again). The witnesses assumed that was a cover story, as they could not imagine a test aircraft being sent to hover over a nuclear weapons storage facility, but they felt compelled to sign the NDAs for fear of retaliation if they did not. This case also suggests that in searching for pertinent USAF NDAs, it may be necessary to review NDAs of the type alleging uncleared military personnel had been exposed to US advanced technology programs outside their clearance level or access authorization and not merely search for some sort of “UAP NDA.”

In the Bentwaters, Rendlesham Forest, UK, case in December 1980-January 1981, there are indications that secondary witnesses and civilian investigators were pressured to sign secrecy agreements (see Col. Charles Halt’s 2016 book, pp, 400, 439).

Is AARO a Science Project or an Intelligence Organization?

Why is AARO, a component of the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense (DoD), suddenly changing the rules of the game and importing purely academic, scientific standards for the interpretation of intelligence data? Is it because this allows the government to ignore important and valid but inconvenient information?

AARO claims its “methodology applies both the scientific method and intelligence analysis tradecraft” (AAROR, p. 6). But it seems the scientific methodology is set off against the intelligence methodology to discredit any observation of UAP that exceeds present-day scientific understanding, on the tacit grounds that observations by military personnel on this issue, and seemingly this issue alone, are not credible. Meanwhile, the intelligence tradecraft that would investigate a foreign adversary’s possible futuristic development of science seems to be shunted aside. Thus AARO uses a limited academic form of today’s science to deny as “not credible” the observed and measured UAP performance that may represent an advanced technology, possibly extraterrestrial, although we know 21st century science will inevitably be followed by a 31st century science. Neither the law enforcement nor intelligence communities have the luxury of limiting themselves to dismissing human reporting in favor of purely scientific standards of evidence.

It sometimes feels as though AARO is approaching the old unscientific Air Force Project Blue Book policy, long ago exposed by Blue Book scientific consultant Dr. Hynek, of declaring “It Can’t Be: Therefore it Isn’t” when dealing with tough unexplainable UFO cases (The Hynek UFO Report, 1977, ch. 3).

Hence, AARO’s Dr. Kirkpatrick claims there is no “credible” information of craft demonstrating capabilities that defy our current scientific understanding: “AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics” (DoD News Briefing, Apr. 19, 2023). This, despite the testimony of Navy squadron Cmdr. Dave Fravor and his colleagues were involved in the Nimitz incident, backed by dramatic radar-infrared-electro-optical data recordings. AARO does not even mention the Nimitz case or its investigation anywhere in its “complete”, “thorough”, and “accurate” Historical UAP Report.

Cmdr. Fravor and his wingman and their crew all saw and reported the same wingless white “Tic Tac” shaped craft in conditions of ideal visibility and their accounts of its mind-boggling capabilities were corroborated by radar operators serving on two different platforms

Later that day another F/A-18 witnessed and filmed the UAP, yet it seems as if AARO is denying this undeniable event, suggesting it did not even happen just because it exceeds today’s academic scientific understanding. Multiple accounts by all three pilots and their weapons systems operators, and multiple radar operators and technicians agree that craft they observed demonstrated almost-instantaneous high g acceleration; achieved hypersonic speed without a sonic boom; showed no evidence of friction or plasma or obvious propulsion, despite the extreme velocities it achieved (estimated peak 90,000 mph in 12 miles going from 0 to 90,000 mph to 0, all in 0.78 seconds, at 5,000 g’s acceleration). The estimated 47-foot wingless white “Tic Tac” shaped craft also thus seemed to survive g forces far greater than any aircraft, rocket, or missile of that size built by man. The tough Navy squadron commander of the Black Aces could not find a terrestrial explanation for what he and his colleagues observed and he has made that clear in sworn testimony to Congress. Is this not relevant?

What aspect of this case should be thrown out as “not credible” and why? Why are we even bothering to ask pilots to report UAP if we do not deem them credible? Why is this case not viewed as compelling, albeit not absolutely conclusive, evidence of the presence in Earth’s atmosphere of vehicles that are so far advanced we cannot understand or replicate their performance? What evidence would AARO accept – and is AARO going to employ an unspoken rule of today’s academic science that does not see a science of tomorrow, and therefore arbitrarily says it must not have happened, because we don’t understand what was reported?

Aside from not liking the implications, is there any reason to doubt the fully consistent account of so many accomplished aviators and sailors operating with high-tech sensors? Our military could not function as effectively as it does if its personnel were not competent and reliable. When assessing the UAP issue, senior policymakers deserve candid views of intelligence and military personnel, not views limited by unrealistically high scientific standards imported from Academia. After all, AARO is a joint IC/DoD operation, not a science project.


As documented above, AARO has not complied with statutory orders from Congress for a detailed history of UAP sightings as recorded in USG’s historical records, instead providing a limited history of flawed US Government investigations of UAP.

There was no examination of the impact of “stigma” on the UFO subject, witnesses, and persons interested in it, aggressively implemented by the Air Force and supported by the AF-instigated CIA Robertson Panel, despite the legal requirement for AARO to document the history of intelligence agency manipulation of public opinion and other abuses.

Yet, as AARO itself acknowledged in its first report to Congress the “stigma” surrounding this topic has been a central problem in terms of getting government personnel or scientists to report or study UAP. (AARO Jan. 2023, p. 2) To summarize:

    • The AARO report is beset with basic errors of fact and science (for instance, despite AARO insinuations, Apollo moon landings cannot be seen by the naked eye from Earth, Manhattan Project buildings cannot fly in the air as UFOs, etc.).
    • The report makes unsupported claims about secret government projects causing civilian UAP sightings while ignoring the military’s own sightings of UAP that the military knew were not our own.
    • AARO never defines what evidence they would accept for extraterrestrial visitation or even UAP existence, to help avoid repeating past failures of UAP investigations. It seems AARO’s unstated definition of “evidence” is a fluid goalpost.
    • There are massive gaps in AARO’s review of important US government documents, records, and programs, and patterns of excessive UAP secrecy. The report focuses on prior government UAP investigations without even acknowledging they were more of an effort to delegitimize the topic than investigate it.
    • The powerful effects of the stigma that resulted are never discussed, despite universal recognition of the primary role stigma has played in preventing objective government or scientific UAP research. By failing to do so, this AARO report is more likely to reinforce this dangerous and dysfunctional stigma rather than mitigate it.

As skeptic journalist Tyler Rogoway said, and bears repeating (emphasis added): “The gross inaction and the stigma surrounding Unexplained Aerial Phenomena as a whole has led to what appears to be the paralyzation of the systems designed to protect us and our most critical military technologies, pointing to a massive failure in U.S. military intelligence.”

Finally, AARO has unaccountably imported the limited approaches to evidence used in academia that are not an appropriate basis for intelligence assessments of national security issues. Why ask pilots to report UAP if we are going to then discard these reports because they do not meet some strict but narrow-visioned academic and scientific standards? Why is it that the human mind and intellect can contribute to intelligence assessments of any other topic but UAP?

What about future scientific developments and the scientifically unpredictable intentions of foreign adversaries? In sum, this limited approach to analysis, uniquely applied to the subject of UAP within the Intelligence Community, deprives policymakers of judgments based on information that is important, valid and compelling, even if it is not at present scientifically conclusive.

I hope this report will help Congress, the press, and the public understand just how far short AARO’s historical UAP report is from being “thorough”, “accurate” and “complete.” I also hope AARO will find some of these observations helpful in preparing Volume 2. There is no reason this taxpayer-funded organization cannot be more clear, transparent, and accurate regarding its UAP analysis and reporting.

Acknowledgments: This article was only possible due to the diligent research and extraordinary contributions of quite a few UAP experts and researchers, who shall remain nameless here but who freely contributed their time and expertise. Their astute analysis and expertise form the backbone of this article. It took substantial effort on their part, but I know they will be satisfied if this helps Congress and the public understand how much work remains to be done to create a “complete” and “accurate” history of UAP and the US government.

Christopher Mellon spent nearly 20 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community, including serving as the Minority Staff Director of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He actively participates in Harvard’s Galileo Project and, in his free time, works to raise awareness regarding the UAP issue and its implications for national security. Follow him online at his official website and on X: @ChrisKMellon.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on April 15, 2024, with additions to further illustrate the issues presented by AARO’s claim that U-2 reconnaissance aircraft could account for numerous early UAP observations, further commentary regarding incorrect details in AARO’s report involving the CIA Special Group that convened in the 1950s, and the inclusion of an additional table and commentary regarding the U.S. Air Force IFO cases provided to the CIA’s Robertson Panel. 


Christopher Mellon, “How government over-classification may hide UFO videos and harm security,” The Hill, March 6, 2022.

Note: The author does not necessarily endorse every point expressed in the resources linked below.

Robert Powell/SCU (Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies), “AARO Report: Flawed, Unresponsive, Clueless, and Knavish,” March 9, 2024, X/Twitter (See below):

Micah Hanks, “2022 Annual Report on UAP: Four Significant Takeaways You Probably Missed,” The Debrief, Jan. 19 2023.

Barry Greenwood, “2024 AARO Report,” CUFOS (Hynek Center for UFO Studies).

John Greenewald / Black Vault, “What’s NOT in AARO’s recent “Historical Record” UAP Report?” X/Twitter post, March 31, 2024.

John Greenewald / Black Vault, “Breaking Down The Recent UAP “Historical Record” Volume I Report,” YouTube post, March 30, 2024.

Marik von Rennenkampff, “Pentagon’s flawed UFO report demands congressional action,” The Hill, March 15, 2024.