On April 27, the U.S. Department of Defense officially released three videos of UFOs recorded by U.S. Navy pilots along with a statement. This quickly became some of the biggest news of 2020, besides the pandemic.
The UFO footage accumulated a great amount of excitement in people all over the internet. Some went as far as to make claims on Twitter such as “a few days ago the US Navy literally confirmed aliens exist.” #Aliensexist was trending on twitterand an uncountable amount of articles were written about the matter.
But is anything here actually new, significant, interesting or worth getting excited over? Not really.
To start, the video's availability to the public isn’t new. The videos were leaked twice — once in 2007 and once in 2017 — and have been constantly circulating the internet ever since. In addition, thePentagon has already acknowledged that these videos are in fact real U.S. Navy footage.
So if the videos public availability isn’t new and the government admitting the videos are real isn’t new, then why exactly has this address gained so much attention? This is the first time they’ve been released and addressed both in an official setting. Other than that, this event broke no other milestones and holds no other significance.
So why make this address now if it’d truly mean so little? In its statement, the Department of Defense explains that:
“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena. DOD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”
This explanation tells us exactly why they couldn’t release the videos before or officially confirm them until now, and it’s really pretty obvious.
The “unidentified” part of UFO is misleading. It implies that what’s been witnessed in the sky is unknown to everyone, but this isn’t the case. It really means that only the people calling it a UFO don’t know what it is. The difference here is huge.
If the department released all of the information it had on these UFOs immediately, we could be unintentionally causing serious damage to ourselves or our allies. Something that’s unidentified could be anything, so imagine that one of these objects was a top-secret experimental aircraft being worked on by other parts of our own military. Or imagine if one of these objects was some highly classified weapon being tested by allies of the U.S. We could be giving away information that’s highly sensitive or important to keep private.
The department’s saying that it had to make sure it wasn’t potentially putting ourselves or our allies at risk by releasing or exposing sensitive information prematurely.
This whole situation is highly reminiscent of what happened with Project Mogul, or how most people may know it, the Roswell Incident. In 1947, a mysterious object crashed in a New Mexico desert and became one of the most famous UFO stories in all U.S. history. When government officials showed up to collect the remains of the crash and gave almost no further information about what the aircraft was, some people with large imaginations said it was aliens and made it into the myth it is today. But what many didn’t know at the time and still don’t understand is why the government had no choice but to keep the sensitive details of the crash secret for so many years.
The object was actually one of many high altitude balloons positioned in a certain part of the atmosphere where sounds could travel a great distance. They were part of what was called Project Mogul, an experimental new technology being tested by the U.S. for the purpose of monitoring Russian nuclear bomb testing in the Cold War. The idea was that with microphones positioned in this high altitude sound channel, we could record the time, location and potential power of any Russian nuclear testing from all the way in the U.S.
Obviously, we didn’t want the Russians knowing about this new technology. In 1992, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War, all of this information became declassified and available to the public as it no longer became sensitive information, much like the videos that were just released.
We still don’t know what these objects are, but we do know that the information is no longer sensitive to us or our allies. This of course means it’s very much possible that the UFOs are the property of some other nation that desires to keep secrets from the U.S. The most likely answer is drones owned by some country we aren’t so friendly with as the UFOs all seem to fit this description best.
Evan Holden is a freshman political science major. Contact Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org.