WASHINGTON - The U.S. government shared three recently-declassified UFO videos this week, part of the more than 650 potential sightings that officials are examining.
Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the Defense Department's All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), said of that number – about half of them appear to be especially interesting and anomalous.
Kirkpatrick testified on Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. The public hearing was only the second one in the last 50 years in which lawmakers have openly discussed UFOs. The first was last May.
Most of the unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) – better known to the public as unidentified flying objects or UFOs – have been concentrated off the East Coast and West Coast of the U.S., in the Middle East and in the area of the South China Sea, Kirkpatrick said.
A majority occur in the 15,000- to 25,000-foot range, he testified, noting that the reason for this is because that's where a lot of aircraft fly.
Kirkpatrick gave a general overview of what his department has done, presenting several infographics about UAP reporting trends and discussing a handful of specific cases with declassified videos. He also warned of "emerging capabilities" and "advanced tech" from potential foreign adversaries — specifically Russia and China — that "are concerning."
While there has been no definitive evidence of extraterrestrial technology or alien life, Kirkpatrick said typical characteristics of reported UAPs are "round, atypical orientation," about 1 to 4 meters (3.2 to 13 feet) in length, and "white, silver or translucent."
As of this week, Kirkpatrick’s team is examining 650 cases. Of that number, the team has prioritized about half of them that appear to be especially interesting and anomalous, he said.
Here are the declassified UAP videos that were shared and what DoD officials have assessed about them:
Middle East Object
In one newly declassified video, taken on July 12, 2022, in the Middle East by an American military drone called the MQ-9 Reaper, an apparent silver, orb-like object is seen zipping in and out of the frame.
The object comes through the top of the screen, and the camera moves to follow it. The object then pops in and out of the field of view.
DoD officials said that while the AARO believes the object in the clip was not exhibiting "anomalous behavior," it remains unidentified.
"It is going to be virtually impossible to fully identify that just based off of that video," Kirkpatrick testified on Wednesday.
Officials said this video is an example of many of the cases AARO receives where there is limited data surrounding the observation. These cases are part of the office’s active archive pending the discovery of additional information that may lead to more answers.
South Asian Object 1
In another newly declassified video, taken on Jan. 15 in South Asia by an American military drone, an unidentified object was observed with an "apparent atmospheric wake" trailing it as it moved across the sensor’s field of view from left to right.
Kirkpatrick testified that the video showed "some really interesting things that everyone thought were truly anomalous to start with," but in reality, not so much.
The AARO assessed that the object likely was a commercial aircraft and that the trailing cavitation was a sensor artifact – a result of video compression. Case resolution is pending final review.
"We pulled these apart, frame-by-frame, and were able to demonstrate that that is essentially a… shadow image. It’s not real," Kirkpatrick testified.
"If you squint, it looks like an aircraft, because it actually turns out to be an aircraft," he added.
South Asian Object 2 (additional footage)
In a second video released, the same object is depicted in additional footage from the Pentagon with a longer focal length. This was also dated on Jan. 15.
"The apparent back and forth motion is an artifact of the longer focal length and the sensor attempting to zoom in on the fast moving UAP, rather than the MQ-9," Defense Department officials said.
The department again noted how analysis of commercial flight data in the region and the full motion video, including this additional footage with a longer focal length, led the AARO to assess that the object likely was a commercial aircraft.
‘No credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity’
The AARO was created to better understand and respond to UFO sightings. Unidentified objects in any domain pose potential risks to safety and security, particularly for military personnel and capabilities, Kirkpatrick said.
They’re working to improve data collection, streamline reporting requirements, and resolve cases in a systematic and prioritized manner.
"We cannot answer decades of questions about UAP all at once, but we must begin somewhere. While I assure you that AARO will follow scientific evidence wherever it leads, I ask for your patience as DOD first prioritizes the safety and security of our military personnel and installations in all domains," Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick said that only a very small percentage of UAP reports "could reasonably be described as 'anomalous.'" The majority have more mundane characteristics of balloons, unmanned aerial systems, clutter, natural phenomena or "other readily explainable sources."
"Humans are subject to deception and illusions, sensors to unexpected responses and malfunctions and, in some cases, intentional interference," he said.
While many cases remain technically unresolved, Kirkpatrick attributed that to primarily a lack of data.
"I should also state clearly for the record that in our research, AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics," Kirkpatrick said.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. FOX News Digital contributed.