| 22.06,19. 01:02 AM |
Spike in UFO sightings sparks major government response
An image from US Navy pilot video.Image: CNN
A spike in UFO sightings by US Navy pilots has prompted Pentagon officials brief the US president and other senior politicians about the encounters.
President Donald Trump confirmed he had received the briefing earlier this week.
And on Wednesday three more US senators received the classified briefing, including Mark Warner who is vice chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee.
It follows an increasing number of sightings by FA/18 pilots from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia.
That spike prompted the US Navy to introduce new reporting procedures for its pilots in April, so it can more effectively track the sightings.
At the time, the Navy said in a statement that "a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years".
Pilots are seeing something out there - and their experiences are beginning to generate serious political concern.Image: Getty
US political leaders are keen to get to the bottom of the unexplained encounters.
"If pilots at Oceana or elsewhere are reporting flight hazards that interfere with training or put them at risk, then Senator Warner wants answers. It doesn't matter if it's weather balloons, little green men, or something else entirely — we can't ask our pilots to put their lives at risk unnecessarily," Warner spokeswoman Rachel Cohen told CNN.
Spokesman for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare Joseph Gradisher confirmed the briefing took place in a statement to CNN on Thursday.
"Navy officials did indeed meet with interested congressional members and staffers on Wednesday to provide a classified brief on efforts to understand and identify these threats to the safety and security of our aviators," he said.
"Given the classified nature of these discussions, we will not comment on the specific information provided in these Hill briefings," Gradisher said.
Trump said last Sunday that he " did have one very brief meeting on it".
Last month, a group of five navy pilots told The New York Times about their experiences with unidentified flying objects in the past few years.
They told the paper the craft had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes and would reach heights of 10,000 metres at hypersonic speeds.