The Pentagon’s chief UFO investigator told a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday that even as the number of airborne incidents continue to rise at a rapid clip, they have yet to uncover any evidence of alien life, or an alien intelligence, behind the unexplained sightings.

Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his office is now tracking more than 650 incidents, a number that’s risen significantly from a declassified Pentagon report released in January that catalogued 510 sightings.

“Of those over 650, we’ve prioritized about half of them to be of anomalous interesting value, and now we have to go through those and go ‘How much of those do I have actual data for?’” Kirkpatrick told the committee, per CNN.

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During his testimony on Wednesday, Kirkpatrick definitively stated that, out of the hundreds of UAP cases his office has reviewed, “AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology or objects that defy the known laws of physics,” according to a report on the hearing by Space.com. The Anomaly Resolution Office director acknowledged that this conclusion might be “unsatisfying” to those who believe they have witnessed incontrovertible evidence of physics-defying craft or objects. 

But, Kirkpatrick also co-authored an academic paper in March that forwarded the theory that some of the unexplained sightings, now referred to by government investigators as “unidentified aerial phenomena,” could actually be probes sent by an alien mothership to perform reconnaissance missions focused on Earth.

Per a report from Politico, more than half of the five-page paper is devoted to discussing the possibility that the unexplained objects the Defense Department is studying could be the “probes” in the mothership scenario, including most of the page-long introduction. One section is titled: “The Extraterrestrial Possibility” and another “Propulsion Methods.”

Kirkpatrick seemed somewhat less open to acknowledging the potential existence of extraterrestrial pilots when speaking to senators on Wednesday and no one on the committee asked him about the paper he co-authored with Harvard professor Avi Loeb.

“I want to underscore today that only a very small percentage of UAP reports display signatures that could reasonably be described as anomalous,” Kirkpatrick said in Wednesday’s hearing. “The majority of unidentified objects reported to AARO demonstrate mundane characteristics of balloons, (uncrewed) aerial systems, clutter, natural phenomena or other readily explainable sources.”

Back in June 2021, the street cred for UFOs/UAPs was dramatically elevated after NASA announced it was gearing up to convene a panel of experts to dig into exactly what might be behind the mysterious and unidentified flying objects witnessed by numerous airline pilots, military personnel and average citizens over recent years and captured on video, radar and other sensing devices.

A hair-raising report from the office of the Pentagon’s U.S. Director of National Intelligence, released just weeks after NASA announced its investigative effort, references 144 documented UAP “incidents” from 2004 to 2021. No mention of aliens or extraterrestrial life is made anywhere in the report, and all but one of the happenings, mostly captured by advanced equipment on jets flown by military pilots, are described by government officials as still unexplained.

The Pentagon document released in January, the 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, included reviews of a significantly higher number of catalogued UAP incidents since ’21’s preliminary report.

According to the Pentagon assessment, the majority of the new reports came from U.S. Navy and Air Force pilots and operators “who witnessed UAP during the course of their operational duties and reported the events.”

While there are no definite Earth-shattering conclusions about the origins of the UAP seen in the incidents analyzed in the Pentagon’s unclassified report, reporting by Space.com notes the document highlights a growing emphasis on airspace safety, prompted in part by the recent proliferation of drones — some of which might represent intelligence-gathering efforts by the United States’ adversaries. 

“UAP events continue to occur in restricted or sensitive airspace, highlighting possible concerns for safety of flight or adversary collection activity,” Pentagon analysts write in the new report, adding that the agency continues “to assess that this may result from a collection bias due to the number of active aircraft and sensors, combined with focused attention and guidance to report anomalies.”