Sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena have surged by more than 140 since the last report was released by the Pentagon’s UAP research office in January, a defense official said in a hearing before Congress.

The director of the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office testified last week in the second UAP-related congressional hearing in more than 50 years. The number of sightings, he said, now number more than 650 objects of interest.

“Of those over 650 [UAPs], we’ve prioritized about half of them to be of anomalous, interesting value,” AARO Director Sean Kirkpatrick testified.

Kirkpatrick presented updated findings to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities that included declassified surveillance images of UAPs flying through the skies. None of the objects under investigation by AARO, however, were of extraterrestrial origin, Kirkpatrick said.

In January, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report in which an initial assessment found the U.S. government had 144 UAP reports from March 2004 to March 2021. An additional 119 UAP reports fell within that time frame, but were not discovered until after the initial assessment. Since that evaluation, AARO registered 247 new UAP reports, the January report said, totaling 510 cases since 2004.

But in just the past three months since the report was released, at least 140 more UAP reports have been filed to the office — a more than 27% increase in just under four months.

During Kirkpatrick’s presentation, he noted reports of UAPs were heavily concentrated on the western and eastern seaboards of the U.S., the Middle East and in the Indo-Pacific near China. Of the total UAPs in the January assessment, more than half had a morphology classified as “orb, round or sphere,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick also noted during the hearing that the AARO is planning to develop a website where members of the public can document experiences with UAPs. The initial design for the website has been in the review process since before Christmas of last year, he added.

An amendment passed in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act replaced the Office of Naval Intelligence’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force with the AARO. The goal of the restructuring, amendment sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said, was to increase intelligence sharing between the Pentagon and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

“Congress established this office in law to get to the bottom of the very serious problem of unidentified anomalous phenomenon or UAP,” Gillibrand said during the hearing. “While we have made progress, there remains a stigma attached to these phenomenon. There is a vast and complex citizen engagement, and there’s also very challenging scientific and technical hurdles.”

Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.

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