15 May 06
The MOD has today published the results of a once-highly-classified official investigation into the existence of Unidentified Flying Objects. The report concludes that UFOs exist - but are a mixture of natural and-man-made phenomena, rather than evidence of extraterrestrial life.
The report examines 'UFO' sightings collected over a 30 year period, to ascertain whether there is any evidence of a threat to the UK and to identify any potential military technologies of interest. The study was not conducted to substantiate the existence of extraterrestrial life-forms but we can confirm that no such evidence was found.
As for 'UFOs', or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (they're not always objects), the report concluded that while people reporting sightings are often genuine, rational explanations such as aircraft lights or natural phenomena, including meteors forming 'buoyant plasmas', can explain them.
The report concludes that none of the UFO reports the MoD received had any Defence Intelligence value and led to the decision in December 2000 that the Defence Intelligence Staff no longer had any need to continue receiving UFO sighting reports.
Under Secretary of State for Defence, Tom Watson said:
"I am delighted that the Freedom of Information Act has meant that this once Secret report has been declassified and made public. In a department where lives are literally on the line and we can’t release every document we have, this is yet more evidence of the MoD’s commitment to openness."
The study, titled Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defence Region, was conducted between 1996 and 2000 during a policy review into the handling of UFO sighting reports by the MOD. The report contains sensitive information concerning the UK Air Defence Region and was therefore classified Secret and given a limited distribution. Until the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, all government records were closed from public viewing for a period of 30 years after the last action was taken.
The report has been released now because MoD received a Freedom of Information request for a copy of the report. Embracing the spirit of open government, and despite the size (over 450 pages) and original classificatioOD staff have taken great care to ensure that the majority of this large report is made available.
There is a real an enduring interest in Unidentified Flying Objects. By far the most popular topics of FOI requests has been UFOs, followed by Recruitment enquiries; enquiries from staff; and historical events such as World War Two, the Falklands conflict and the Balkans. Recent FOI MoD releases on UFOs have attracted media interest from as far away as Japan.