The U.S. House of Representatives will hold an open hearing on unidentified aerial phenomena – more commonly known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs – next week, the first such meeting of its kind in over 50 years.
News of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation hearing, which will take place on May 17, was first reported by the New York Times.
Lawmakers will hear open testimony from Ronald Moultrie, the under secretary of defense for intelligence & security, as well as Scott Bray, deputy director of naval intelligence, on the Pentagon’s Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG) before participating in a closed-door, classified meeting.
"The American people expect and deserve their leaders in government and intelligence to seriously evaluate and respond to any potential national security risks – especially those we do not fully understand," Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., said in a statement shared with Spectrum News.
"I'm pleased to chair the first open Intelligence Committee hearing on these events,” he added. “It will give the American people an opportunity to learn what there is to know about incidents. And I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on this critical matter."
The Department of Defense created AOIMSG in November of last year as a successor to the U.S. Navy’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force in an effort to streamline the government’s efforts to identify, classify and understand sightings of unexplained objects in the air that might be a threat to national security.
The creation of the new working group followed a June report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which examined hundreds of cases of unidentified aerial phenomena reported by naval officers.
Officials said they failed to explain or identify 143 of the 144 cases of unidentified aerial objects captured on video since 2004.
“We were able to identify one reported UAP with high confidence. In that case, we identified the object as a large, deflating balloon,” the report stated. “The others remain unexplained.”
Interest in the topic had been growing inside Washington following the 2017 leak of three videos taken in 2004, 2014 and 2015 that showed encounters recorded on separate Navy fighter jets; the first by a pilot stationed aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz off the coast of California and the latter two by naval airmen stationed on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt near the Florida Keys.
The video taken in 2015 tracked an unexplained object as it soared high along the clouds, traveling against the wind. “There's a whole fleet of them,” one naval aviator could be heard saying on the recording, though only one indistinct object was shown. “It's rotating."
The videos, now commonly known as “FLIR1,” “Gimbal” and “GoFast,” were only officially released by the Pentagon in April 2020 despite having circulated the internet for years, though the agency said in a statement it had “previously acknowledged that these videos circulating in the public domain were indeed Navy videos.”
Ultimately, lawmakers included a provision in the $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill — signed into law in December 2020 by then-President Donald Trump — requiring the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, and other intelligence agencies conduct a 180-day review of the “anomalous aerial vehicles.”
While the report did not provide many conclusive answers, lawmakers hope next Tuesday’s meeting will offer the American public more insight into how and why the government is looking into the phenomena.
“[T]he American people deserve full transparency, and the federal government and Intelligence Community have a critical role to play in contextualizing and analyzing reports of UAPs,” House Intelligence chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement. “The purpose of this hearing is to give the public an opportunity to hear directly from subject matter experts and leaders in the Intelligence Community on one of the greatest mysteries of our time, and to break the cycle of excessive secrecy and speculation with truth and transparency.”