There is no "credible evidence" that unidentified objects - observed largely by U.S. military pilots - are examples of extraterrestrial technology or have unexplainable abilities, the Pentagon’s UFO Csar told a Senate hearing on Wednesday. But there are “concerning indicators,” he said, that some of these sightings could be of Chinese origin.

“I should also state clearly for the record,” said Sean M. Kirkpatrick, director of the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), “that in our research, AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology or objects that defy the known laws of physics.”

Referring to the Pentagon-speak phrase of “unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP)” now being used to replace the term UFO in the public lexicon, Kirkpatrick added that “if the significant scientific data were ever attained that a UAP encounter can only be explained by extraterrestrial origin, we are committed to working with our interagency partners at NASA to appropriately inform U.S. government leadership of its findings.”

So what could these objects be? February's incidents of U.S. fighter jets shooting down four high-flying aerial objects in American and Canadian airspace - including one identified as a Chinese government surveillance balloon - were top of mind during the open portion of Wednesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing.

Committee Vice Chair Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) asked Kirkpatrick if there are “any Chinese or Russia technical advancements to surveil or attack U.S. interests.”

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