5_26_01 M UFO 8
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An alien sign points the way to the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, Colorado, on 5/26/01. Jay Janner/The Gazette

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The Navy is updating its UFO protocol in a bid to destigmatize reporting of unknown phenomena and come up with a process to analyze the sightings.

The military is now referring to the sightings as “unexplained aerial phenomena” rather than “unidentified flying objects.” The Navy is not suggesting that people are seeing alien life, per se, but said in a statement to Politico that there have been enough strange sightings to warrant investigation into unusual phenomena seen in the air.

“There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years,” the statement read. “For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the [U.S. Air Force] takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report.

“As part of this effort, the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities. A new message to the fleet that will detail the steps for reporting is in draft,” the release stated.

The Navy said that it has provided briefings on the matter in response to requests from Congress, although it declined to identify who was briefed.

In 2007, the Pentagon began a secret investigatory effort into UFOs called the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program. That program came to an end in 2012 when the congressional earmark for the office was depleted.

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