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As the U.S. Congress holds hearings on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs), it’s essential not to lose sight of other potential threats in U.S. skies. The democratization of aerial technology, particularly drones, poses major national security challenges. To effectively monitor airspace, the U.S. must explore ways to collect public reports while reducing false alerts.
The Democratization of Airborne Technology:
Historically, advanced technologies related to air power were in the hands of a few major military powers. Today, these technologies are accessible to more and more countries, private companies and even the general public. This democratization has led to the proliferation of civilian drones, some of which have even been converted into lethal weapons. This development poses a major challenge to national security.
UAPs: a growing concern:
Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), formerly known as UFOs, are a growing source of concern. However, the democratization of aerial technology also poses a serious threat to national security. The United States’ limited resources make it difficult to constantly monitor its vast airspace.
The need for public reporting:
Public reporting could help authorities identify potential threats, but it is essential that these reports actually concern unknown aerial phenomena. Some sightings reported as UAPs are actually US military aircraft.
Analysis of Report Data:
We analyzed 101,151 reports of aerial phenomena between 1998 and 2022 from 12,783 locations designated by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data came from the National UFO Reporting Center, a non-governmental entity referenced by the FAA for reporting unexplained aerial phenomena.
We identified factors associated with more reports of UAPs. For example, being about 20 miles from an area of military operations was consistently linked to higher rates of public reporting. These areas are the site of various military activities, such as training in aerial maneuvers, interceptions and low-altitude tactics.
Reducing false alerts:
To reduce false alerts, it could be useful to make civilians living near these areas of military operations aware of ongoing aerial activities. In the long term, however, the U.S. needs a robust system for collecting public reports of unidentified aerial phenomena, using mobile devices, GPS and artificial intelligence to collect rich data, including images, audio recordings and descriptions.
Consequences and Future of Aerial Surveillance:
These measures could reduce the likelihood of hoaxes and misunderstandings, while ensuring that the government focuses on immediate threats, such as Chinese surveillance aircraft or terrorist attacks via drones, as well as the prospect of visitors from beyond Earth.
The democratization of aerial technology and UAPs present complex challenges for surveillance of the American skies. It is imperative to put in place effective public reporting mechanisms while minimizing false alarms. National security depends on our ability to identify real threats in the skies, whether terrestrial or extraterrestrial in origin.
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