The US Navy has begun drafting guidelines for navy pilots to report sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) after an increase in unexplained sightings.

This is after a number of unidentified aircraft have entered military airspace in recent years, which has serious implications for safety and security.

The US Navy said in a statement that there had been “a number of reports of unauthorised and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years” and that the new process would formalise the process of reporting “any such suspected incursions” to the relevant authorities. Details of the new standardised process for reporting UFO sightings is currently being drafted.

This does not necessarily mean that navy pilots have seen alien spacecraft, but the updated guidelines provide a way to officially record and investigate unexplained or unauthorised sightings.

Military airspace sees rise in UFO sightings

Last year, the Irish Aviation Authority investigated UFO sightings after British Airways pilots flying near Ireland reported seeing fast-moving bright lights in the sky.

According to the Washington Post, there has been an increasing number of “unexplained aerial phenomenon” in military airspace but many go unrecorded with military personnel and commercial airline pilots discouraged due to the stigma around reporting UFO sightings. This is despite the Navy telling POLITICO that it  “takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report”.

Joseph Gradisher, spokesperson for office of the deputy chief of naval operations for information told the Washington Post that the overdue guidelines should make it easier for sightings to be reported, and harder for these reports to be ignored:

“We want to get to the bottom of this. We need to determine who’s doing it, where it’s coming from and what their intent is. We need to try to find ways to prevent it from happening again.”

This follows reports by the New York Times in 2017 that the US government had allocated $22m to the New Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program to investigate unexplained phenomena. The programme ended in 2012.