Three former defense officials on Wednesday gave explosive testimony at a House hearing on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs), warning that the sightings “potentially” pose national security risks.
The witnesses before the House Oversight subcommittee — a former Navy pilot, a retired Navy commander and an ex-Air Force intelligence official — also stressed that the government has been far too secretive in acknowledging such incidents, prompting calls from lawmakers for the intelligence community to be more forthcoming.
“If UAP are foreign drones, it is an urgent national security problem. If it is something else, it is an issue for science. In either case, unidentified objects are a concern for flight safety,” said Ryan Graves, a former F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot who founded Americans for Safe Aerospace, a non-profit group meant to encourage pilots to report UAP incidents.
And all three witnesses replied “yes” when asked if the UAPs could be collecting reconnaissance information on the United States or probing the country’s capabilities.
The hearing seemed to unite lawmakers in a push for answers on a topic that has largely been dismissed by politicians, who for decades have been hesitant to touch on UAPs — also known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs — and other extraterrestrial life lest they become a laughingstock.
A series of reports from The New York Times beginning in 2017 began to change that. The reports — exploring the Pentagon’s secretive Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program and DOD-documented UAP sightings.
Lawmakers also worry that the sightings could be tied to military technology owned by adversaries but unbeknownst to most Americans.
“UAPs, whatever they be, may pose a serious threat to our military and our civilian aircraft, and that must be understood,” said the subpanel's ranking member, Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.). “We should encourage more reporting, not less on UAPs. The more we understand, the safer we will be.”
The Pentagon has only given tentative information on UAPs, in 2021 releasing a report which found more than 140 inexplicable encounters.
Videos released by the Defense Department have also shown unexplained happenings, including the now famous “Tic Tac” video, taken in November 2004 on a routine training mission with the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of southern California.
During the encounter, Navy ships and planes used sensors to track an oval-shaped flying object that resembled a Tic Tac breath mint, with four pilots visually sighting the apparatus that flew at high speed over the water before abruptly disappearing.
Former Navy pilot David Fravor, the commander of the mission and the individual who filmed the video, on Wednesday told the committee that the object “was far superior to anything that we had at the time, have today or looking to develop in the next 10 years.”
He added that he found it “shocking” that “the incident was never investigated” and said none of his crew were ever questioned.
And fellow witness Graves said during the hearing that he had seen UAPs off the Atlantic coast “every day for at least a couple years.”
He said the sightings were “not rare or isolated” – noting that UAP objects have been detected “essentially where all Navy operations are being conducted across the world,” and were also seen by military aircrews and commercial pilots.
But Graves also estimated that only 5 percent of sightings are reported, which he attributed to stigma among pilots who feel it will “lead to professional repercussions either through management or through their yearly physical check.”
But the most explosive testimony of the day came from David Grusch, a former member of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency whose previous allegations on UAPs and the government’s efforts to conceal them sparked Wednesday’s hearing.
Grusch claimed that the Pentagon and other agencies are holding back information about UAPs and hiding a long-running program that is attempting to reverse engineer the objects.
Grusch said that he “absolutely” believes the U.S. government is in possession of non-human technology, adding that he knows “the exact locations” of that material.
He also claimed that he has faced serious reprisals for his statements and had knowledge of those who have been harmed or injured as part of ongoing efforts to cover up extraterrestrial technology.
Grusch in the past has claimed that the U.S. government has for decades recovered nonhuman craft with nonhuman species inside.
He repeated similar assertions at Wednesday’s hearing, though he repeatedly told lawmakers he could not share details in a public setting and that his information was based upon what he had been told by others.
Republicans and Democrats now want to get to the bottom of what these incidents mean for U.S. national security.
“There clearly is a threat to the national security of the United States of America,” Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) said. “As members of Congress, we have a responsibility to maintain oversight and be aware of these activities so that if appropriate we take action.”
He later told reporters that lawmakers have “a responsibility now to move forward aggressively to get to the answers of these questions.”
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) told reporters that a bipartisan group of lawmakers will seek a closed meeting with the witnesses to discuss confidential information in a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF.
And Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday's hearing was the “first of many” on the government's handling of information related to UAPs, which “is an issue of government transparency.”
“I’m shocked, actually, at just the amount of information that came out because all the roadblocks that we were put up against,” he told reporters.
“I think what’s gonna happen now, the floodgates — other people are gonna say, ‘You know, I’ve got some information, I’d like to come swear in,’ and that’s what we’re going to start doing.”