Study Buddy (Challenger): ‘They are real’ – US holds rare public hearing on UFOs

  • Study Buddy Challenger is for students who want to take their understanding to the next level with difficult vocabulary and questions that will test their inference skills
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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A US official has said defence and intelligence analysts have not ruled out extraterrestrial origins of UAPs spotted by US military pilots. Photo: Shutterstock

Content provided by British Council

Read the following text, and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] Two senior US defence intelligence officials said last month that the US Department of Defence was committed to determining the origins of what it called UAPs – “unidentified aerial phenomena”, commonly termed UFOs – but acknowledged many remained beyond the government’s ability to explain.

[2] The two officials, Ronald Moultrie and Scott Bray, appeared before a House of Representatives intelligence subcommittee for the first public US congressional hearing on the subject in a half-century. It came after a 2021 government report documented more than 140 cases of unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, that US military pilots had observed since 2004.

[3] Bray, deputy director of naval intelligence at the Pentagon, said the number of UAPs officially catalogued by a newly formed task force had grown to 400 cases. On the question of possible extraterrestrial origins, Bray said defence and intelligence analysts had not ruled it out. “We have no material ... within the UAP task force that would suggest it is anything non-terrestrial in origin,” he told the committee.

[4] Moultrie, who oversees the Pentagon-based UAP investigation team as US defence undersecretary for intelligence and security, said: “We know that our service members have encountered UAP, and because they pose potential flight safety and general security risks, we are committed to a focused effort to determine their origins.”

[5] Bray presented two UAP video clips. One showed flashing triangle-shaped objects in the sky, later determined to be visual artefacts of light passing through night-vision goggles. The other showed a shiny, spherical object zipping past a military aircraft’s cockpit window – an observation Bray said remained unexplained. The 2021 report included a previously released Pentagon video of enigmatic objects exhibiting speed and manoeuvrability exceeding known aviation technology and lacking any visible means of propulsion or flight-control surfaces. Those incidents are among cases still categorised as “unresolved”.

[6] Bray said some UAP observations were unexplained because of a paucity of data. He added analysts must consider the possibility an advanced aircraft might use “signature management” technology to conceal its flight capabilities, but “we’re not aware of any adversary that is capable of flying an aircraft without any discernible means of propulsion”. Last year’s report said more data and analysis were needed to determine if UAP sightings represented aerial systems from a secret US government or commercial entity or from a foreign power. It said factors could include atmospheric conditions, “airborne clutter” and pilot misperception.

[7] Subcommittee chairman Andre Carson stressed the importance of taking UAPs seriously: “UAPs are unexplained ... But they are real.” The hearing marked a turnaround for the US government after decades of deflecting, debunking and discrediting observations of UFOs and “flying saucers” dating back to the 1940s. There had been no open congressional hearing on the subject since the Air Force terminated an inconclusive UFO programme code-named Project Blue Book in 1969.

Source: Agence France-Presse and Reuters, May 18


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. What does “They” in the headline refer to?
A. US defence intelligence officials present at the congressional hearing
B. source of flying objects detected by the US Air Force’s radar
C. unidentified aerial phenomena witnessed by pilots in the American military
D. none of the above

2. What prompted the congressional hearing mentioned in paragraph 2?

3. What did Bray imply when he said defence and intelligence analysts had “not ruled it out” in paragraph 3?

4. What two reasons were given in paragraph 4 to justify further investigation of UAPs?

5. Which word can replace “enigmatic” in paragraph 5?
A. mysterious
B. visible
C. obscure
D. hidden

6. According to paragraph 5, how are the UAPs in a video included in the 2021 report different to regular aircraft?

7. What might “‘signature management’ technology” be referring to in paragraph 6?
A. the components that allow the objects to fly at speeds beyond known aviation technology
B. parts of a plane that allow pilots to control its flight path
C. machinery that can mask the UAPs’ propulsion abilities and flight-control surfaces
D. all of the above

8. Decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given in the text. (4 marks)
(i) At least one of the incidents reported by members of the US military was the result of interference from other equipment or technology.
(ii) The US Department of Defence plans to set up a new intelligence group to investigate unidentified aerial phenomena.
(iii) The 2021 Pentagon report categorically denied the existence of UAPs.
(iv) The US Air Force’s Project Blue Book did not result in any breakthroughs regarding UFOs.

9. Which of the following best describes the tone of this text towards the existence of UFOs?
A. sceptical
B. ambivalent
C. patronising
D. objective

US Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray plays a video of an “unidentified aerial phenomena”, commonly referred to as UFOs, during a hearing in Washington last month. Photo: AFP


1. C

2. A 2021 government report which documented more than 140 cases of unidentified aerial phenomena that US military pilots had observed since 2004

3. He implied that the UAPs could have come from somewhere outside Earth.

4. They could threaten flight safety and pose a security threat.

5. A

6. They exhibited speed and manoeuvrability exceeding known aviation technology and lack any visible means of propulsion or flight-control surfaces.

7. C

8. (i) T; (ii) NG; (iii) F; (iv) T

9. D

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