UFO investigations in U.K. provided “no valuable defense output”

The government DOES try to address UFO sightings but finds they aren’t worth pursuing.

BBC News – UFO sightings: Files explain why MoD closed down special desk.

Why did the U.K. UFO reporting center close? For a similar reason why the U.S. version closed. It was not helpful.

In a briefing for the then defence minister, Bob Ainsworth, in November 2009 a civil servant, Carl Mantell of the RAF’s Air Command, suggested the MoD should try to significantly reduce the UFO work. He said it was “consuming increasing resource, but produces no valuable defence output”.

He told Mr Ainsworth that in more than 50 years, “no UFO sighting reported to [the MoD] has ever revealed anything to suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK”.

His memo said there was “no defence benefit” in the recording, collating, analysis or investigation of the sightings, adding: “The level of resources diverted to this task is increasing in response to a recent upsurge in reported sightings, diverting staff from more valuable defence-related activities.”

The desk was closed despite a surge in sightings that continued. The prevalence of sightings is NOT surprising. As the idea of UFOs became more common and accepted, people noticed incidents and reported them. In the 21st century, UFO reports continue to surge thanks to not only LOTS more flying things in the sky that people can’t quite identify but also the internet and social media that allows for reports to be distributed around the world in seconds.

Curious how this compared to the handling of similar reports in the US, I contacted Antonio Paris, UFO researcher and director of the Aerial Phenomena Investigations Team. The U.S. equivalent, Project Blue Book, was open from 1952-1970 and investigated reports of aerial phenomena. This project was closed in response to the Condon Report conclusions of 1969. “The [Condon] “Committee’s Report” concluded UFOs posed no threat to the national security of the US; and any additional studies into the phenomena would not advance science,” he says.

“The closure of both programs appear to be similar in nature.” However, he notes, “Blue Book shut down decades ago and MOD’s program continued until recently. It would be interesting to know why MOD continued to investigate reports of UFOs for decades after Blue Book and whether or not any information was shared with the US.”


The Condon report is available in its entirety from the website of the National Capital Area Skeptics.

MUFON continues to collect sighting reports in the U.S. They are not a government-affiliated agency. You can also report to the API if you saw something you think it worth investigating. But just remember, there are A LOT of man made things up there. That makes more sense.

More from NY Times blog.

Britain Releases the Last of Its X-Files – NYTimes.com.

  9 comments for “UFO investigations in U.K. provided “no valuable defense output”

  1. spookyparadigm
    June 21, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    A couple of caveats

    1. The political/PR nature of Blue Book has been well worked over, but is important nonetheless. Blue Book was the third known (and with the exception of small idiosyncratic “working groups” like the one profiled in Blum’s book Out There, it is probably the third and final UFO study group that operated out of the US government until the special investigations into Roswell, more on that in a sec) UFO group in US federal history. The first two military projects, Sign and Grudge were quieter but more serious investigations. There was always an element of Blue Book being something of public relations of minimizing concern in such topics rather than actually investigating them, a need outlined in the Robertson Panel.

    In other words, I wonder if the MoD UFO desk can be compared to Blue Book. While there was some element of investigation to Blue Book (if nothing else, the result of JANAP reporting requirements for civil pilots), the MoD desk seems until the last few years to have been more of a legitimate “listening post,” designed to see if anything worthwhile was there, but not meant to address public interests per se.

    Which means that except for ad hoc cases, the attitudes towards UFOs in the US military might have been equivalent to the MoDs much earlier, perhaps with the Robertson Panel.

    2. While the Air Force officially got out of the UFO business with the Condon report, FOIA has shown that from time to time, particular cases have raised an interest on the part of DoD, State, or elements of the intelligence community. The Tehran “dogfight” is a classic example, where it was monitored to some degree by the US. But one gets the feeling that this was, as with the MoD, through a national security lens, firmly looking to earthly threats.

    3. Somewhat amusingly, or depressingly, most US government interest in UFOs since 1970 has been driven by ufologists, or more specifically, their audience. The FBI did look at the Majestic documents to ascertain if a real security breach had occurred (it didn’t). GAO did look into Roswell, but at the request of a New Mexico congressman in the 1990s, and while that request may have been more investigation-oriented, subsequent interest by government officials in Roswell has been more PR-oriented, whether on the part of then governor Richardson seeing the obvious tourist potential, or the Air Force releasing debunking reports to coincide with the mania around the 50th anniversary.

  2. Fortean UK
    June 21, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I’m surprised to see the Condon Report being referred to in this story. I thought even diehard skeptics now accepted it as being a discredited whitewash.

    The UFO desk at the MOD was never really anything more than a PR exercise. It was revealed several years ago that any serious UK investigation is carried out by another intelligence organisation (whose name escapes me for the moment). Of course this won’t have been mentioned by today’s stories in the media as they are incapable of taking this subject remotely seriously.

  3. spookyparadigm
    June 21, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    I’d like to see more on said intelligence organization. And don’t tell Nick Pope, it’d ruin his speaking gig schedule.

  4. Fortean UK
    June 21, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    According to Nick Pope he had no knowledge of their existence while he was at the MOD and if I recall correctly he still denies any offical knowledge of them. I’ll try to track down the source that revealed who they are.

  5. June 22, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    of all unknown reports came from amateur and professional astronomers or other users of telescopes (such as missile trackers or surveyors). In 1952, astronomer J. Allen Hynek , then a consultant to Blue Book, conducted a small survey of 45 fellow professional astronomers. Five reported UFO sightings (about 11%). In the 1970s, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock conducted two large surveys of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and American Astronomical Society . About 5 % of the members polled indicated that they had had UFO sightings.

  6. Daniel
    June 25, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    I find it useful to search and find UFOs, from my perspective because I saw one in 1977. I, and at least 4 others, saw the probable-ET UFO (one of the people, my brother, was with me at the time I saw it). It was a multi-colored (i.e., the colors of red, white, blue, and green were mixed together but somehow separate, and appeared electrically charged and were slightly pulsating). It had three long antennae-like protrusions that were the same colors as the sphere but appeared to possibly be a little longer than the diameter of the sphere. The three “antennae” retracted into the sphere at the same time and within a moment, the sphere flew into space at “warp speed” with instant acceleration from a complete stop (it was hovering in the sky for about 1 minute from the time I first saw it at night). It accelerated so fast from a complete stop that it appeared at first to pop like a balloon, but instead it streaked out into space with a long red line. I get all kinds of unsatisfactory explanations, for example, mass hallucination, although at least two other people saw it who weren’t with me and my brother. I’m an atheist and see no conflict between atheism and extraterrestrial craft that could, for some unknown reason, be visiting earth, so it slightly irritates me that so many atheists seem to deem everyone who has seen a UFO as crazy, seeing things that are not there, delusional, or liars, etc. I have no idea what the apparent craft was (an orb?), but I have seen no satisfactory explanation for what the four of us supposedly did *not* see (and even I disbelieve most reports of UFOs as being anything but earthly or false or mistaken reports). I require no supernatural explanation, but I do require some kind of *rational* reason the four of us did *not* see what we saw.

  7. June 25, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    It’s not true that “so many atheists seem to deem everyone who has seen a UFO as crazy, seeing things that are not there, delusional, or liars, etc.” Or, should I say, that’s a conclusion you need evidence for. Practical everyone has seen something in the sky they could not identify. It seems fairly common. Some people interpret it more dramatically than others. I really don’t see what atheism has to do with this at all. In fact, there is no connection. Aliens would be a worse concept for the religious since other intelligent life was created by….?

    UFOs are one of the most difficult things to investigate because they are fleeting observations usually at night. The most common explanation — mistaken identity thanks to our imperfect eyeballs.

  8. June 28, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    > I do require some kind of *rational* reason the four of us did *not* see what we saw.

    Did you investigate your sighting? Or did you decide it must be aliens and therefore you didn’t need to investigate?

  9. Daniel
    June 30, 2013 at 3:23 AM

    I’m not sure how to investigate such a sighting, especially in April 1977 when the earth apparently had no craft that could fly at warp speed, and doubtful can do so today. (People, atheists or not, but more often atheists, often mock me when I tell them about my sighting, or they get snarky, especially atheists.)

    Further, the craft was hovering in the sky in a remote location on the Montana-South Dakota border near Buffalo, South Dakota (a very small town, about 70 miles North of Belle Fourche, South Dakota). The craft flew near or over Belle Fourche, South Dakota on its way to space (not straight up, but mostly horizontal but from my perspective angled slightly upward), which probably explains why my wife saw the same object before we met about a year later. (Interestingly, we were married and were discussing UFOs, and that is when we discovered we saw the same UFO. It’s still unidentified because I will never know for sure what it was.)

    However, the four of us know what we saw, and it would be difficult for all of us to be delusional at the same time. (The one person who was not with me or my brother was mocked at work for telling about the UFO until my brother said, “I saw it (the UFO) too.” It’s one thing to see things we can’t identify. But, it’s another thing to clearly see something that defies the knowledge of the time (1977), and appears almost certainly to be an ET type craft (I can’t say there was any living being inside what we saw, which was a sphere). It seems to me that almost all atheists who write on the Internet claim that UFO sightings are equivalent to sightings of fairies, Bigfoot, and unicorns, our eyes didn’t see what we thought, etc., often with the caveat that there could be life on *other* planets, but if you think you see a UFO on earth, you are delusional, mistaken, etc.

    This illustrates the typical responses of many atheists : http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20121205080802AAmlw4b.

    What it has to do with atheism is that the atheists lose some credibility with me when they think they are debunking something that I actually saw and I know they don’t know what they are talking about. Also, if I were (still) a Mormon, I would have no doubt that what I saw was an ET craft (because Mormons believe there are many planets inhabited by humans), but now that I’m an atheist, I am open to other explanations because I am much more skeptical than I used to be, but it seems many atheists become too skeptical at times. Shoot, even I’m overwhelmingly skeptical of UFO claims myself, especially claims of alien abduction.

    A few years ago (about 10 years ago), I found a sample of a claimed UFO on the internet that showed the same colors of the UFO I saw, but I can’t find anything similar now on the Internet. It is very difficult to describe the colors and how they looked, that is, they were all mixed together, but we could see different colors.

Comments are closed.