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For more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Defense has been quietly cataloging and investigating scores of bizarre encounters—most from the U.S. Navy—of ships and fighter jets tangling with, or being tailgated by, unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Beginning in 2017, videos and eyewitness accounts of these weird sightings found their way into public view, ultimately spurring Congress to demand that the Pentagon produce a report summarizing all that the U.S. government knows about so-called unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs (an alternate term with considerably less stigma than the much maligned “UFOs”).

Produced under the auspices of a Pentagon group called the UAP Task Force, an unclassified version of the report is expected to be released later this month. Upon establishing the task force, the DOD released an accompanying statement explaining the justifications for its existence: “The safety of our personnel and the security of our operations are of paramount concern. The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report. This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing.”

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