U.S. Government and Civilian UAP Investigations

Aerial phenomena of undetermined origin have been a subject of intrigue for centuries, although formal attempts to collect information about them and determine their origin began during the mid-20th century. In the United States, a series of U.S. Air Force efforts began in 1947, first under the designations of Project Sign and Project Grudge, and thereafter Project Blue Book, which ran from March 1952 until the end of 1969.

Several civilian groups also investigated these phenomena during this period and the ensuing decades, which at the time were commonly still called unidentified flying objects (UFOs), a name which some still preferentially use for these phenomena today. Among these were the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) and the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), two of the earliest civilian UAP research groups. They were followed by the Center for UFO Studies, founded by former Project Blue Book science advisor J. Allen Hynek, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and many others.

Efforts to resolve the nature and origin of UAP continue in the 21st century. What follows is a summary of the current investigations that are underway by the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as civilian groups who have been involved for many years, all of which the UAPSRS supports with its efforts. 

U.S. Government UAP Investigations

On August 4, 2020, the Unidentified Aerial Task Force (UAPTF) was established by then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist to “improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs,” and to “detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.” The launch of the UAPTF resulted from widespread public interest in a series of military UAP encounters, as well as efforts within the DoD to evaluate them, that were first reported by The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets beginning in 2017.

In 2021, the UAPTF produced a summary of its initial findings titled “Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” which provided a general overview of the DOD’s UAP research efforts. Following its publication, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks issued a memorandum calling for the establishment of a more formalized UAP investigative office within the government. Thereafter, an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act directed the establishment of what became known as the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), which carries out the DOD’s current UAP investigations.

You can learn more about the DoD’s current investigations of UAP and view the information it has made available to the public at AARO’s official website.

Civilian UAP Research

The UAPSRS also aims to coordinate with and support the efforts of other long-running civilian UAP investigative groups, which include the following:

  • The National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC): Founded in 1974 by Robert Gribble, since 1994 NUFORC has been managed by Peter Davenport, its current director, and has cataloged almost 90,000 sightings of UAP in the United States and other parts of the world. NUFORC website
  • National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP): Since its founding in 1999, NARCAP has been widely recognized as one of the most respected UAP research organizations with a focus on collecting reports related to aviation safety. The organization, currently overseen by Director of Research Ted Roe, allows pilots and other aviation professionals to file confidential reports about their UAP sightings. NARCAP website
  • Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU): The SCU is a think tank of scientists, researchers, and professionals drawing from civilian organizations, governments, and industries to scientifically and publicly explore UAP. SCU website
  • National UFO Historical Records Center (NUFOHRC): The NUFOHRC manages the nation’s largest collection of original historical records related to the study of UAP. Overseen by Executive Director David Marler, the NUFOHRC supports research into UAP, its origins, and the history of governmental and civilian organizational investigations into it. NUFOHRC website
  • J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS): A privately funded UFO research group currently overseen by Director Mark Rodeghier, Ph.D., CUFOS was founded in 1973 by J. Allen Hynek and has remained at the center of scientific investigation into unexplained aerial phenomena for many decades. CUFOS website
  • Mutual UFO Network (MUFON): Since its founding in 1969, MUFON has become the largest civilian investigative organization involved in the study of UAP. MUFON boasts an international membership and remains a source for data and investigations into the nature of UAP. MUFON website

UAP represent one of the most challenging phenomena to have garnered scientific attention. It is the hope of the UAPSRS that the combined efforts of civilian groups and U.S. government investigations into UAP may help to broaden our understanding of this scientific mystery. For more information about the UAPSRS, its operations, and who we are, please see our About page. UAP sightings can be submitted to the UAPSRS through our Report a Sighting page.