After hundreds of documented cases of UFO sightings from U.S. service members and other military personnel, the Pentagon, intelligence community, and Congress have begun to take action.
While most of the evidence documenting UFO incidents remains classified, one former pilot has gone on the record with the goal of destigmatizing the topic and bringing awareness to what Washington now calls a major national security threat.
Navy Lieutenant Ryan Graves, a retired F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot and flight instructor says he and his squadron saw similar UFOs every day for months at a time while training off the coast of Virginia Beach.
As Graves told The Daily Wire, the incidents began when his squadron upgraded their radar systems and began picking up objects that, due to their unusual flight patterns, they assumed couldn’t be real.
“At first, we didn’t think much of it. We didn’t think they were physical objects — they were perhaps software bugs or some type of problem with the atmosphere that needed to get smoothed out.”
But according to Graves, he and his fellow pilots quickly determined the objects were real when they began encountering them during training missions off the coast.
The craft, which Graves and others describe as a “dark cube inside of a clear sphere,” at times came within 50 feet of their planes, prompting a number of missions to be canceled over safety concerns.
As he and his squadron began to see the objects day after day, the craft were observed acting in ways that he said were hard to explain — operating from just above the ocean surface, up to 30,000 feet.
“One of the highlights for us was seeing the objects being stationary because there’s anywhere from 30 knots to 150 knots of wind up there – so anything stationary is very exciting,” Graves said. “But when they would move, they would seem to move without concern for the wind – there was no slowdown in either direction for the wind, they weren’t drifting with the wind. … They were kind of moving about of their own accord and it wasn’t in a way that you would recognize.”
Graves, who was flying one of the most advanced planes in our arsenal, says the craft they observed did things American pilots could only dream of.
“They’d be doing these behaviors from the time that we arrived on station until the time that we checked out. And then the next guys go out there and they’re still out there. So they’re doing these behaviors all day.”
Eventually, Graves says the objects would fly Eastward toward the open ocean, oftentimes well above the speed of sound. According to Graves, craft have been spotted over the Atlantic on an almost daily basis for at least the past nine years.
Similar craft have been documented over the U.S. mainland in virtually every part of the country, but Graves and other pilots say there was initially little response from military brass due to a lack of reporting mechanisms.
“We didn’t have a way to report this, other than just to talk about it and then what’s that really gonna do? Our aviation safety reporting mechanisms are not designed for this and they’re not even designed for proactive safety intervention, they’re designed for after the fact data collection for the most part. … So the only other option would be to essentially communicate up the chain of command, but there’s nowhere for that to go, so nothing came back to us.”
Federal Response Grows
As UFO reports became more common and the stigma around the topic began to dissipate after the Pentagon confirmed their legitimacy, the U.S. military took action.
In 2019, the Navy created formal guidelines for UFO reports and since then, the number of documented cases from military personnel has skyrocketed. According to a report from the Director of National Intelligence released in January, there have been more than 350 reports filed in the last 14 months alone.
Of those reports, more than half were deemed “unremarkable,” and characterized as high tech drones or balloons, but 171 exhibited “unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities” and were deemed unexplained.
Nearly overnight, Congress went from hardly discussing the matter to publicly calling UFOs a serious national security concern.
In 2022, members of both parties in both chambers demanded transparency and more information on federal efforts to track unidentified objects in our airspace.
As part of those efforts, in April, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee On Emerging Threats held a public hearing dedicated to the threat posed by UFOs.
Senators heard testimony from the Pentagon’s chief UFO investigator, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, who gave an update on the government’s findings, confirming that hundreds of the incidents remain unexplained, and showing new military footage of a spherical UFO operating in the Middle East.
One of the leading lawmakers calling for transparency on the topic is Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), who led a bipartisan push with Republican Senator Marco Rubio to demand answers.
“As recent events have shown, we need more and better sharing between the intelligence community and our military. And the stigmatization of the service members and personnel who come forward with this data is unacceptable,” she said, during a hearing with the Director of National Intelligence in March.
As part of that broader effort from lawmakers, last year Congress required the Department of Defense to establish a special office for investigating UFO incidents. The provision, included in the National Defense Authorization Act, calls for the DOD to “evaluate links between unidentified aerial phenomena and adversarial foreign governments, other foreign governments, or non-state actors.”
As mandated by the NDAA, that new entity, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, must also deliver to Congress, within 18 months, a historical account of its UFO research dating back to 1945, including “any program or activity that was protected by restricted access that has not been explicitly and clearly reported to Congress.”
While the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies remain tight-lipped about who – or what – is behind the unexplained phenomena, a number of potential theories have begun to emerge.
For many, the explanation is simple: the objects are some form of top-secret American technology.
Those who believe the UFOs are American craft say the general public is routinely – and necessarily – kept in the dark on our latest military advancements, and say high-tech planes or drones would likely appear other-worldly to those unfamiliar with them.
They point to the B-2 stealth bomber, which was operational for years before the American public became aware of its existence, as evidence the Pentagon is capable of developing new-age technology in secret.
Critics of that explanation, however, say the fact our intelligence agencies, lawmakers, and the Pentagon are calling for investigations and transparency on the matter proves they’re not our own. They say it would be counterintuitive to draw such public attention to programs intended to be kept secret.
Others, including Lt. Graves, say top-secret experimental technology is tested over the mainland to avoid prying eyes. If a craft is flown over international waters – like those spotted by our airmen and sailors – foreign adversaries could view them, or recover them if they went down.
“We have ranges where we do that type of testing, because over the ocean, that’s international waters. Once you get out there, anyone can park a boat and spy on what you’re doing, essentially,” Graves said.
“The training areas where we operate off the Eastern seaboard are some of the busiest airspace. … So it’s not the place where you want to test something that could potentially be an air safety hazard,” he added.
Others say the recent government action on UFOs could be part of an elaborate “false flag” meant to distract Americans from more important topics or elicit a desired response from the public.
They point to past examples of such efforts like Operation Northwoods, a DOD proposal in 1962 that called for terrorist attacks on American civilians to drum up support for an invasion of Cuba, as evidence the U.S. government is willing to carry out elaborate hoaxes to sway the general public.
Another leading theory is that UFO sightings can be attributed to technology from foreign adversaries – most notably, China or Russia.
Critics say that explanation, however, would require some form of quantum leap in technology far beyond anything we’ve seen from another country. They note that sightings date back decades and question why such technology, if possessed by an adversary, has not led to advancements in other sectors or manifested elsewhere.
And then there are the non-traditional explanations.
65% of Americans say they believe in intelligent life beyond earth, and for many, the most likely explanation for the unexplained craft in our skies is extraterrestrial.
Others believe UFOs could have religious implications and are some form of spiritual phenomena.
For their part, government officials aren’t ruling anything out. As the office of the Director of National Intelligence put it, the search for answers will “go wherever the data takes us.”
Cabot Phillips is the Senior Editor at the Daily Wire. He can be heard regularly on the Morning Wire podcast.