Written by CNN Staff
The US military’s claims that it has spotted unidentified flying objects several times in recent years have become an international talking point and fanned conspiracy theories over whether the government is covering up extraterrestrial activity.
And now — finally — the Defense Department is reportedly going to launch a new investigation unit to crack the mystery.
“To help drive our continued defense investment, we must have a robust and reliable debate about what we are doing in space,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said at a recent event in Washington, according to the aerospace newspaper Aviation Week.
Other US government officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have claimed the government is investigating unidentified aerial phenomena, though the claims have been challenged.
It wasn’t clear exactly what role the new initiative would play in the already existing so-called Flying Saucer task force, but the government reportedly hopes the group will encourage new ideas, amid concerns over severe budget constraints.
7 January 1984: A US Air Force Air Control tower manager explains to a group of Tucson police officers — above a giant floating mass of “unsuspecting vessels” — why a mysterious object was captured on surveillance footage. Wikimedia Commons
The new unit will be led by former Rear Adm. Doug MacKinnon, who was a combat pilot during the Vietnam War and served as a senior Pentagon space official, the report said.
CNN attempted to contact Defense Department for comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.
In a 2016 report, the National Academy of Sciences’ Defense Science Board said the military has “little certainty” about its fleet of MQ-9 Reaper drones and that the military is currently “fascinated by UFOs”
“Military officials reported that some DoD personnel were even “mildly nervous” about how the agency was responding to the phenomenon,” the report said.
Last year, the Defense Science Board also said “unique, persistent, and persistent” computer generated phenomena such as flickers and eye-like, cone-shaped lights, sometimes seen from the ground, are “probably neither paranormal nor artificial.”