Numerous observations of unidentified flying objects in recent years continue to puzzle the US military. This came out on Tuesday at the first hearing in the US House of Representatives for more than 50 years on “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP) – as the US military calls UFOs.

Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence (ONI), Scott Bray, said the UAP task force in his agency had no evidence that any of the unexplained celestial objects were of extraterrestrial origin.

House Counterintelligence Subcommittee Chairman Andre Carson said: “EAP is inexplicable, that’s true. But they are real. They need to be examined.”

Rep. Peter Welch noted: “No one knows if extraterrestrial life exists. It’s a big universe. And it would be pretty presumptuous to come to an unequivocal conclusion.” Senior Pentagon official Ronald Moultrie, who revealed himself to be a science fiction fanatic at the hearing, said: “We are open to any hypotheses and conclusions that we come across could.”

Bray said, “Since the early 2000s, we have observed an increasing number of unapproved and/or unidentified aircraft or objects.” Reports of sightings continued. The increase in reports is also due to factors such as improved sensors or newer flight systems such as drones.

But it is also a result of the military’s efforts to demand reports of sightings of unidentified flying objects, which used to be stigmatized. “The message is clear now: if you see something, you have to report it.”

In June last year, the US secret services presented a report on UAP. This showed that there were no explanations for around 140 celestial phenomena from the past two decades. Bray said since the report was published, the number of reported sightings has increased to around 400.

Bray showed two videos at the hearing. According to him, one of them showed a “spherical object” flying past the cockpit of a fighter jet. “I have no explanation as to what this specific object is.”

A second video showed a triangular floating object observed through night vision goggles. Similar observations were made by the Navy a few years later. Bray described the objects as “unmanned aerial systems”.

When asked, Bray said there had been no collisions between US fighter jets and the unknown objects. “But we had at least eleven near-collisions.” There was no communication with the objects. In no case would US forces have opened fire on a UAP.

Only part of the hearing was public. Several questions from MPs to Bray and Moultrie were then to be discussed behind closed doors.