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The US government, once openly dismissive of UFO sightings that for decades sparked the popular imagination, is poised to issue an expansive account of what it calls "unidentified aerial phenomena," based heavily on observations by American military pilots, Steve Gorman, Pavithra George and Will Dunham reported for Reuters.

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The US intelligence community, in conjunction with the Pentagon, is due in the coming days to submit a report to Congress on the subject. The Pentagon in recent years has released or confirmed the authenticity of video from naval aviators showing enigmatic aircraft exhibiting speed and maneuverability exceeding known aviation technologies.

In the lead-up to its forthcoming report, Defense Department officials have made clear they take the issue seriously while sidestepping questions about any potential extraterrestrial origins.

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The report marks a turning point for the US military after decades of deflecting, debunking and discrediting observations of unidentified flying objects and "flying saucers." Earlier, the New York Times and the Associated Press (AP) reported Navy officials expressed doubt they were alien spacecraft.

"We take reports of incursions into our airspace – by any aircraft, identified or unidentified – very seriously, and investigate each one," Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said. The experience of retired US Navy Lieutenant Commander Alex Dietrich is a case in point.

The fighter pilot was among several aviators from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz involved in a 2004 encounter off California's coast with unknown aircraft described as resembling large "Tic Tac" breath mints.

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Dietrich recalled in an interview with Reuters this week that the oblong object lacked "any visible flight control surfaces or means of propulsion."

Dietrich said she believes the episode was "analyzed in a professional, sober way" by the military chain of command after she and her colleagues were debriefed.

She said she hopes her ability to go public will help ease the stigma others once faced under similar circumstances, encouraging them to "speak up, even if they don't know what they saw." She added: "I'm trying to normalize it by talking about it. I hope I'm not the 'UFO, Tic Tac person' for the rest of my life."


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