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As the Pentagon prepares its report into UFOs, due later this month, Chinese military researchers have turned to artificial intelligence to track and analyse the increasing number of unknown objects in China’s airspace.

To the People’s Liberation Army, they are “unidentified air conditions” – a phrase which echoes the US military’s “unidentified aerial phenomena” – but to the public they are better known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs.

According to Wuhan-based researcher Chen Li from the Air Force Early Warning Academy, human analysts have been overwhelmed in recent years by the rapidly mounting sighting reports from a wide range of military and civilian sources across the country.

“The frequent occurrence of unidentified air conditions in recent years … brings severe challenges to air defence security of our country,” said Chen, in a 2019 report to a conference of senior information technology scientists in Beijing in 2019.

The PLA’s task force dedicated to the unknown objects increasingly relies on AI technology to analyse its data, according to Chen’s report, which is in line with several other military studies published in domestic journals, most recently in August last year.

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