Washington: A unique 180-day countdown for US intelligence agencies started in December when President Donald Trump signed a massive $2.3 trillion Covid-19 relief and government spending bill into law. The Intelligence Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2021 was a part of the spending bill under which the Senate intelligence committee directed the intelligence agencies to submit a report on “unidentified aerial phenomena” within 180 days.
The Senate intelligence committee’s directive came into force months after the department of defence released three declassified videos that showed US Navy pilots encountering what appears to be unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Following the declassification of videos, the US Navy released seven incident reports in May 2020 on the series of encounters between Navy pilots and “unidentified aerial phenomena”.
According to the first incident report, a white-coloured aircraft was spotted in 2013 which was approximately the size and shape of a “drone or missile” and left a visible exhaust trail. Another report from 2014 detailed the encounter in which the aircraft appeared to be “approximately the size of a suitcase”, and was silver in colour. The report highlighted that the pilot was able to pass within 1,000 feet of the unknown aircraft but couldn’t identify it.
A former senator from Nevada, Harry Reid, had then hailed the declassification of videos and called on the authorities to take a serious look at any potential national security implications. Taking to Twitter, Reid said that that the footage only “scratches the surface of research and materials available”. The director of National Intelligence and the secretary of defence now have less than six months to tell the Congressional intelligence and armed services committees what they know about UFOs.
According to the Senate intelligence committee’s directive, the report must contain detailed analyses of UFO data as well as intel inputs from the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The committee has directed the federal agencies to identify potential national security threats posed by UFOs and to assess the possibility of an adversary nation behind such activities.