The ODNI report examined 144 UFO sightings dating back from 2004. It noted that the 11 "documented instances" of pilots reporting near misses with the objects as examples of "current ongoing airspace concerns." According to the paper, aviators are mandated to report such concerns when they encounter such safety hazards.
The report said that UFOs "pose a hazard to safety of flight," but acknowledged that they "probably lack a single explanation." It added that defense and intelligence analysts lack sufficient data to determine the actual nature of UFOs spotted by military pilots. The report also put forward the possibility of the UFOs actually falling under explainable categories such as airborne clutter and natural atmospheric phenomena, amid speculation that the objects were examples of extraterrestrial technology.
"In a limited number of incidents, [UFOs] reportedly appeared to exhibit unusual flight characteristics. These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis," the report continued.
The paper also touched on UFOs becoming a challenge to U.S. national security. It said that the aerial phenomena "could pose a broader danger if, [in] some instances, [they] represent sophisticated collection against U.S. military activities by a foreign government or demonstrate a breakthrough aerospace technology by a potential adversary."
Finally, the ODNI report proposed a number of steps to analyze UFO sightings more deeply. It put forward the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to look at patterns from among UFO sightings and classify them based on similarities. It also emphasized the need for additional funding for research and development.
Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that lawmakers and other government officials need to take a closer look at UFOs and the potential security threats they pose. During a May 16 appearance on the CBS News show 60 Minutes, the Florida legislator described a "stigma on Capitol Hill" involving lawmakers chuckling whenever the topic is brought up.
Despite this, Rubio said some lawmakers expressed interest in further probing UFOs and their impact on national security. He ultimately warned: "I don't think we can allow the stigma to keep us from having an answer to a very fundamental question."
The lawmaker also called on the Pentagon to come up with a process to take UFO sightings seriously. "I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in. [There should] be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed, until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn't," Rubio said.
Alongside Rubio, 60 Minutes also interviewed former Navy Lt. Ryan Graves. The erstwhile military officer said he has witnessed UFOs flying over restricted areas on an everyday basis for several years. While many people thought of an extraterrestrial threat with the UFOs, Graves surmised that the objects could be technology developed by the U.S.'s adversaries – posing a security threat. The former lieutenant told the program that the UFOs could be a "threat observation program" by either Russia or China. (Related: Navy spotted UFOs in restricted airspace every day for years, ex-Navy pilot reveals.)
Graves elaborated: "I am worried, frankly. You know, if these were tactical jets from another country that were [hanging] out up there, it would be a massive issue. But because [they] look slightly different, we're not willing to actually look at the problem in the face. We're happy to just ignore the fact that these [UFOs] are out there, watching us every day.
But former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said the UFOs were not a product of the two countries. He told Fox News on June 7: "A lot of people say it's Russia or China. [But] we know for a fact in the intelligence community that things like trans-medium properties and hypersonic speeds – Russia and China clearly did not have those in 2004 when these things were sighted and reported." (Related: Ex-intel chief: UFOs spotted by the military not operated by China, Russia.)