A group of U.S. Navy pilots reported seeing unidentified flying objects while training over the East Coast in 2014 and 2015 in an interview with The New York Times published Monday.
Multiple Navy pilots told the outlet that they spotted "strange objects" with "no visible engine" reaching 30,000 feet and going hypersonic speeds.
“These things would be out there all day,” Lt. Ryan Graves, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot who has been with the Navy for 10 years, and who reported his sightings to the Pentagon and Congress, told The Times.
“Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”
No one in the Department of Defense interviewed for the report said the objects were extraterrestrial.
Graves and the four other Navy pilots who told the Times that they saw the objects in 2014 and 2015 in training maneuvers from Virginia to Florida off the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, made no assertions about where the objects came from.
Josh Gradisher, a Navy spokesperson, told the newspaper the Navy doesn't have all the answers for the observations made by the pilots.
"There were a number of different reports," Gradisher said. Some cases could have been commercial drones, he said, but in other cases "we don't know who's doing this, we don't have enough data to track this. So the intent of the message to the fleet is to provide updated guidance on reporting procedures for suspected intrusions into our airspace."
The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt.
Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, told The Times the sightings were “a striking series of incidents.”
The Pentagon's program was officially shut down in 2012 when the money dried up, the agency told The Times. However, the Navy recently said it currently investigates military reports of U.F.O.s, per the report.
The Navy recently set out new classified guidance for how to report "unexplained aerial phenomena," according to The Times.
The pilots who reported the aerial phenomena "speculated that the objects were part of some classified and extremely advanced drone program."
One pilot reportedly told Graves that he "almost hit one of those things" and that he described it as looking "like a sphere encasing a cube."