UNCLASSIFIED: DNI Releases Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena


UFO Arlington Heights 1969 or 1960sArtist depiction of UFO sighting (observer facing East) in Arlington Heights, Illinois in the 1960s with an approaching flight path from northeast to southwest, just south of the intersection of Arlington Heights Road and Palatine Road.

You probably know that UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) are now classified as UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena). A long anticipated UNCLASSIFIED report was released Friday, June 25, 2021. The UNCLASSIFIED report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was titled Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.

Only one reported UAP was eventually identified with high confidence as a large, deflating balloon. The other reported UAPs remain unexplained, including 144 reports that originated from United States Government (USG) sources. Of these, 80 reports involved observation with multiple sensors. Most reports described UAP as objects that interrupted pre-planned training or other military activity.


The limited amount of high-quality reporting on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP. The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF) considered a range of information on UAP described in U.S. military and IC (Intelligence Community) reporting, but because the reporting lacked sufficient specificity, ultimately recognized that a unique, tailored reporting process was required to provide sufficient data for analysis of UAP events.

• As a result, the UAPTF concentrated its review on reports that occurred between 2004 and 2021, the majority of which are a result of this new tailored process to better capture UAP events through formalized reporting.

• Most of the UAP reported probably do represent physical objects given that a majority of UAP were registered across multiple sensors, to include radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers, and visual observation.

In a limited number of incidents, UAP reportedly appeared to exhibit unusual flight characteristics. These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis.

There are probably multiple types of UAP requiring different explanations based on the range of appearances and behaviors described in the available reporting. Our analysis of the data supports the construct that if and when individual UAP incidents are resolved they will fall into one of five potential explanatory categories:

airborne clutter,

natural atmospheric phenomena,

USG or U.S. industry developmental programs,

foreign adversary systems, and

a catchall “other” bin.

Airborne Clutter: These objects include birds, balloons, recreational unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or airborne debris like plastic bags that muddle a scene and affect an operator’s ability to identify true targets, such as enemy aircraft.

Natural Atmospheric Phenomena: Natural atmospheric phenomena includes ice crystals, moisture, and thermal fluctuations that may register on some infrared and radar systems.

USG or Industry Developmental Programs: Some UAP observations could be attributable to developments and classified programs by U.S. entities. The USG was unable to confirm, however, that these systems accounted for any of the UAP reports that were collected.

Foreign Adversary Systems: Some UAP may be technologies deployed by China, Russia, another nation, or a non-governmental entity.

Other: Although most of the UAP described in our dataset probably remain unidentified due to limited data or challenges to collection processing or analysis, the USG may require additional scientific knowledge to successfully collect on, analyze and characterize some of them. The USG would group such objects in this category pending scientific advances that allowed the USG to better understand them. The UAPTF intends to focus additional analysis on the small number of cases where a UAP appeared to display unusual flight characteristics or signature management.

UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security. Safety concerns primarily center on aviators contending with an increasingly cluttered air domain. UAP would also represent a national security challenge if they are foreign adversary collection platforms or provide evidence a potential adversary has developed either a breakthrough or disruptive technology.

Consistent consolidation of reports from across the federal government, standardized reporting, increased collection and analysis, and a streamlined process for screening all such reports against a broad range of relevant USG data will allow for a more sophisticated analysis of UAP that is likely to deepen our understanding. Some of these steps are resource-intensive and would require additional investment. End of Executive summary.

Among the most interesting statements from the DNI report are that a handful of UAP appear to demonstrate advanced technology.

In 18 incidents, described in 21 reports, observers reported unusual UAP movement patterns or flight characteristics.

Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion. In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems processed radio frequency (RF) energy associated with UAP sightings.

The UAPTF holds a small amount of data that appear to show UAP demonstrating acceleration or a degree of signature management. Additional rigorous analysis are necessary by multiple teams or groups of technical experts to determine the nature and validity of these data. The USG are conducting further analysis to determine if breakthrough technologies were demonstrated.

The majority of UAP data is from U.S. Navy reporting, but efforts are underway to standardize incident reporting across U.S. military services and other government agencies to ensure all relevant data is captured with respect to particular incidents and any U.S. activities that might be relevant. The UAPTF is currently working to acquire additional reporting, including from the U.S. Air Force (USAF), and has begun receiving data from the Federal Aviation Administration

UFO images from New Mexico and Minnesota released by the CIA in 2016 …

UFO Holloman Air Force Base NewMexico 1964Holloman Air Force Base UFO 1964.

Remarkably similar to the Arlington Heights sighting: An unidentified flying object photographed by a government employee over the Holloman Air Development Center in New Mexico in 1964 was published in an AOL story in March 2008 (UFO Photos Draw National Attention AOL Posted: 2008-03-29 23:08:5).

UFO Minnesota1960
Black-and-white UFO documented in October 1960 in Minnesota and released by the CIA in January 2016. To this day, this photo remains unexplained.

Some non-government claims have described that UAPs are frequently noticed near military assets. In the 1960s a military missile defense system was located just south of Northwest Community Hospital where the US Army Reserve and Defense Contract Management Agency is located on Central Road in Arlington Heights.

NIKE radar domes in Arlington Heights
NIKE radar domes in Arlington Heights (SOURCE: photo on file at the Arlington Heights Historical Society Museum).

See complete DNI Report …

OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE | Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (25 June 2021) [PDF]

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