UFOs are real but might not be aliens — and that's somehow more terrifying

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UFOs are real. This is true in the most general sense: There are flying objects that we simply cannot identify. But increasingly, it seems as though everyone — including the federal government — is entertaining the possibility that these inexplicable events are potentially extraterrestrial happenings. The latest to give credence to this theory is Lue Elizondo, a former Pentagon employee who told 60 Minutes that UFOs are real, the government knows about them, and in some cases there is no clear explanation for their existence.

Elizondo, a former military intelligence operations officer and the head of a secretive Pentagon initiative called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), said that unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) have been on the government radar for decades. While some of the anomalous aerial vehicles can be dismissed as simply being refracted light or weather balloons captured on camera, others can't be explained so easily. Those are the ones that have captured Elizondo's attention.

"Imagine a technology that can do 600-to-700 g-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that can evade radar, and that can fly through air and water and possibly space," Elizondo said on the CBS program Sunday night. "And oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces, and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth's gravity. That's precisely what we're seeing."

A bit troubling! In recent years, the government has gotten a little less secretive about UFOs. Several incidents involving Navy pilots spotting unexplained aerial anomalies have garnered national attention. Earlier this year, the Pentagon confirmed the legitimacy of footage that shows these unexplained objects. In the coming months, it is expected that an unclassified report on UFO activity documented by national intelligence agencies and the military will be made public.

When that's released, we'll have a much better idea of what has been happening in the skies when most of us aren't looking. And according to Elizondo, it just might scare the shit out of us. Last month, he told the New York Post that fear is the main reason this information hasn't been made public — but it's not necessarily fear of aliens. He said revealing these UFOs might instead make the public think "we [were] behind the power curve," and that other countries are developing technology that the U.S. can't keep up with.

On 60 Minutes, the former Pentagon official again raised the fact that we have no idea where this technology comes from — on Earth or off — and that's the scary part. "We're going through our due diligence. Is it some sort of new type of cruise missile technology that China has developed? Is it some sort of high-altitude balloon that's conducting reconnaissance? Ultimately when you have exhausted all those what ifs and you're still left with the fact that this is in our airspace and it's real, that's when it becomes compelling," Elizondo said. "And that's when it becomes problematic."

The report on UFOs, which is expected to be delivered to Congress in June, likely won't have any answers as to what these objects in the sky are, but they might help us form more specific questions about them. For instance, "Are we all gonna die?"