The United States Navy will develop guidelines for pilots to report unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) — previously called unidentified flying objects (UFOs) — which enter into military-controlled air space, according to revelations from media company Politico, and The New York Times and The Washington Post.
In a statement issued to Politico, the navy acknowledged that “there have been enough strange aerial sightings by credible and highly trained military personnel that need to be recorded in the official record and studied”. On December 16 2017, the US department of defence confirmed that it operated an advanced aerospace threat identification programme (Aatip), from 2007 to 2012, and its former director, Luis Elizondo, revealed that unidentified aircraft without any visible sign of propulsion mechanisms and capable of achieving hypersonic speeds had been seen.
Two prevailing theories have gained currency about who these interstellar aviators could be.
The first and more plausible suggestion is that one of the rivals to the US for global power, namely China or Russia, have developed aerial technology that far surpasses anything that is “openly” known to existing military forces.
It could simply be the case that the world’s advanced militaries will be soon revealing that they have successfully tested anti-gravity aircraft, based on technology that is now routinely being tested in experimental laboratories in different parts of the world.
A number of cutting-edge technologies have been introduced progressively into human consciousness, such as autonomous drones that are capable of wreaking havoc from the sky; similarly, the radar-defying stealth bomber was also introduced gradually into our awareness. Historically, we can recall how atomic and nuclear bombs were introduced to the world by the tragic bombing of the twin cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, killing people in the order of hundreds of thousands in each explosion.
The second theory is that there is an interstellar civilisation in close proximity to Earth that has achieved interplanetary travel capability and is now reaching out to humanity to gradually make themselves known to us, so that we can begin open interaction.
As far as UFO fly-bys are concerned, a supplementary suggestion is that the Earth has been under some form of inter-planetary quarantine until now, and that there is an increased effort by our interstellar visitors to re-engage with human civilisation. Alternatively, other explanations could be based on the realisation, from the perspective of the interstellar aviators, that Earth’s civilisation has created an environmental catastrophe that threatens the solar system, and that these UFO fly-overs are an attempt to warn humanity of an impending crisis.
Whatever the reason for this emerging phenomenon, the US Navy is taking the issue seriously by confirming that it “is updating and formalising the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognisant authorities”. In addition, on August 9 last year, US Vice-president Mike Pence announced that his government would take the extraordinary step of announcing the formal creation of a department of the space force in 2020, as the sixth branch of the armed forces, and legislation has been sent to Congress for consideration.
Pence said the objective of this space force will be to “develop the space war-fighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures for the future”. On February 19 this year, the White House press secretary issued a “space policy directive”, which stipulated that the space force’s priorities would include “deterring aggression and defending the nation, United States allies, and United States’s interests from hostile acts in and from space”. The notion that there are prospective actors who will perpetuate hostile acts “in” and “from” space, could be a recognition that there is a need to adopt a military posture against the UFOs that the navy will now formally identify and categorise. But, in the absence of sufficient information as to what exactly these UFOs are, it might be foolhardy for the US government to approach them with an aggressive posture.
Specifically, if the UFOs have demonstrated that they are in possession of advanced aerial aircraft technology, it is logical to assume that they equally possess weaponry that far outstrips our own. A far more conciliatory posture is necessary to first determine what in fact we are dealing with; it could ultimately emerge that the civilisations from where these UFOs originate could instead contribute to assisting us with addressing our multiple environmental and societal problems.
Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, suggests “that the real reason UFOs have been dismissed is because of the existential challenge that they pose for a world view, in which human beings are the most technologically advanced life-forms”. Consequently, it is unacceptable in polite society to speak about UFOs with a degree of seriousness, because of the stigma and ridicule that still persists around acknowledging the phenomena. The US Navy’s decision to implement a formal process to report and categorise UFOs will contribute towards the gradual process of disclosing what is out there, and may help shift our mindset to accepting that we are not alone in this vast universe.
Professor Tim Murithi is head of Peacebuilding Interventions at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, extraordinary professor of African studies at the University of Free State and editor of Routledge’s Handbook for Africa’s International Relations