The Department of Defense has received 366 new reports of UFOs or «unidentified aerial phenomena» since March 2021, and about half of them appear to be balloons or drones, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

An initial assessment found that the phenomena in 26 cases were unmanned or drone-like aircraft and that 163 were balloons or «balloon-like entities», while six reports could be attributed to birds, debris such as plastic bags or weather phenomena. unclassified report saying.

But the report also noted that an «initial characterization does not mean positively resolved or not identified.»

About half of the new cases could not be explained and «appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities, and require further analysis,» he said.

A classified version of the report was sent to lawmakers, as mandated by a defense spending bill passed by the last Congress.

The public report said that multiple factors affect the observation of an unidentified aerial phenomenon, or UAP, «such as weather, lighting, atmospheric effects, or the accurate interpretation of sensor data.»

Most of the new sightings came from Navy and Air Force aviators and operators, according to the report, adding that the new reports bring the total number of UFO cases to 510.

The increase “is due in part to a better understanding of the potential threats that UAP may pose, either as flight security hazards or potential adversary collection platforms,” the report said. The increase was also due “to the reduction of the stigma surrounding UAP reporting. ”

More reporting “allows for more opportunities to apply rigorous analysis and resolve events,” he said.

Following demands from Congress, the top intelligence agency released its first UFO report in 2021, which analyzed 144 reported cases. The officials found no evidence that the reported sightings indicated signs of extraterrestrial life or advanced new aircraft or weapons by foreign adversaries.

Although the report did not cite evidence that the UFO sightings may be linked to foreign adversaries, government agencies «will continue to investigate any evidence of possible foreign government involvement in UAP events.»

Last year, the Pentagon established an office to document and analyze UFO reports. It is known as the All Domains Troubleshooting Bureau.

Lawmakers from both parties welcomed the report as an important step forward. But Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said «more needs to be done in the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to use existing sensors to collect and analyze more data on UAP.»