The UFO phenomenon is often ridiculed and its researchers get a tag of 'conspiracy theorists'. But when the U.S. Navy has a Task Force dedicated to analyze any unidentified aerial phenomenon, it draws global attention.

The Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) asked the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense to compile a detailed unclassified report on the "unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP)" including accounts of Navy pilots in the past few years. The bill titled Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, initiated by Senator Marco Rubio, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was voted on Tuesday, June 23.

The bill also asked if additional funding would be needed for such analysis in its "Advanced Aerial Threats" section and acknowledged the existence of a task force.

"The Committee supports the efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force at the Office of Naval Intelligence to standardize the collection and reporting on the unidentified aerial phenomenon, any links they have to adversarial foreign governments, and the threat they pose to U.S. military assets and installations," it said.

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Inter-agency Team to Study UFO Sightings

In May, UFO researcher Roger Glassel revealed the existence of such a task force referring to DOD spokesperson Susan Gough's statement.

"Under the cognizance of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(I)), there is an inter-agency team charged with gathering data and conducting investigations into range incursions. As the preponderance of recent/reported sightings are from naval aviators, the Navy is leading much of the effort. All reports of range incursions are sent to this team for inclusion in the overall effort, thus maximizing the data available for analysis," she told Glassel in an email response.

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While Rubio didn't take UFOs seriously in the past, he was briefed last year (as part of the committee) about such incidents with accounts from naval pilots and other personnel. In 2017, it was revealed that Pentagon had been investigating such UFO sightings by Air Force and Naval pilots for quite some time. Once the matter of the investigation came into the public eye, the SIC was briefed including the three videos which were made public.

Victory for UFO Researchers

However, UFO sightings, which the U.S. government refers to as UAPs, are not of extraterrestrial in nature for federal agencies. They believe and want to study if any foreign adversary including countries such as Russia and China have achieved such aerial advancement. Such aerospace technology is perceived as a threat to the United States' national security and can potentially put its conventional forces in jeopardy.

However, the bill comes as a major victory for UFO researchers and advocates of further government research on the subject. Former top Pentagon intelligence official and Senate staffer, Christopher Mellon, who also advocated for transparency and research, told Politico that "it further legitimizes the issue."

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"That in itself is extremely important. People can talk about it without fear of embarrassment. Assuming the report is properly prepared and delivered, there is no telling what the impacts could be," Mellon said. "That could range from revealing an unknown threat or military vulnerability to there have been probes visiting our planet, or anything in between."

However, it is unclear whether the entire report would be made public as the bill indicates that it could have a classified index, though Mellon demanded that it must be disclosed to the public.

"We are talking dozens of incidents in restricted military airspace over the years. If they don't respond to something like this, what do we have an intelligence community for?" he questioned.