There have been "a lot more" UFO sightings than has previously been made public, Donald Trump's former intelligence chief has said, as the US government prepares to release a declassified report on unidentified flying objects.
The Pentagon has evidence of UFOs breaking the sound barrier without a sonic boom and other "difficult to explain" phenomena, said John Ratcliffe, the director of National Intelligence under the Trump administration.
"There are a lot more sightings than have been made public," Ratcliffe told Fox News. "Some of those have been declassified.
"And when we talk about sightings, we are talking about objects that have seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain.
"Movements that are hard to replicate that we don't have the technology for. Or travelling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom."
The Pentagon's report is expected to be released by June 1, and is part of a US$2.3 trillion legislation signed into law by former president Donald Trump in December.
Lawmakers expressed concern that there is no comprehensive process within the federal government for collecting and analysing intelligence on unidentified aerial phenomena, "despite the potential threat from foreign adversaries", which is why a sweeping report on all relevant information is essential, according to the bill's text.
"Weather can cause disturbances, visual disturbances," Ratcliffe went on. "Sometimes we wonder whether or not our adversaries have technologies that are a little bit further down the road than we thought or then we realised.
"But there are instances where we don't have good explanations for some of the things that we have seen."
Ratcliffe's remarks came several months after the Pentagon declassified three well-known UFO videos, acknowledging that the footage was shot by US Navy pilots.
Harry Reid, a former senator who donated US$22 million ($30m) to the government's UFO investigations, has said the release of a small number of sightings over the years "only scratches the surface" of what the government has on file.
"The US needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications," Reid said. "The American people deserve to be informed."
The US government has looked into UFOs for decades, most notably between 2007 and 2012 when the Pentagon began its Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, funded by Reid.
Last April, the Pentagon officially acknowledged three incidents reported by Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter pilots after years of speculation that pilots were encountering alien spacecraft during training missions.
In the clips, UFOs were seen moving at incredible speeds and performing seemingly impossible manoeuvres. In one, a circular object flying far in front of a jet, while a second caught a small object racing over land.
The latest developments come amid a surge in sightings.
Sightings were up in 2020 compared to the previous year — with more than 6600 recorded during that period, according to National UFO Reporting Center data.
It is thought the rise is partly to do with many people being home and taking up stargazing due to coronavirus lockdowns.