US government wanted to reverse-engineer alien ships — but never found any, Pentagon UFO report reveals

Aerial view of a military building, The Pentagon, Washington DC, USA.
The Pentagon, Washington DC, USA. (Image credit: Glowimages via Getty Images)

The U.S. government is not hiding aliens or their spaceships — although it did once propose a program to reverse-engineer any hypothetical alien technology it found, a Department of Defense (DOD) report reveals.

The Pentagon report, a highly anticipated review of classified documents from 1945 to 2023 that was submitted to Congress Friday (March 8), found no evidence that the U.S. government has encountered aliens or covered up their existence.

Instead, the report blames UFO sightings in the 1960s on top-secret flights of prototype American spy planes and spacecraft. And while the U.S. government did consider a program to reverse-engineer any captured alien ships in the 2010s, no craft were ever found and the proposal was rejected for "lacking merit," according to the report.

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There is "no verifiable evidence for claims that the U.S. government and private companies have access to or have been reverse-engineering extraterrestrial technology," Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement after the report's release. The report also found "no evidence that any U.S. government investigation, academic-sponsored research, or official review panel has confirmed that any sighting of a UAP [unidentified aerial phenomenon] represented extraterrestrial technology."

"All investigative efforts, at all levels of classification, concluded that most sightings were ordinary objects and phenomena and the result of misidentification," Ryder added.

The 63-page review was made by the Pentagon's All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), which was established in 2022 to investigate and manage reports of UFO sightings from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. The review included classified and unclassified archical evidence, full access to all secretive government programs related to UFOs, and 30 interviews with intelligence personnel.

The U.S. government's renewed interest in UFOs came after a 2017 leak of three now-infamous video clips that appeared to show mysterious, wingless aircraft flying at hypersonic speeds past dumbfounded U.S. Navy pilots. In 2020, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence called for an inquiry into UFOs, and in June 2021, the Pentagon released a report on more than 140 UFO sightings by Navy pilots. That report concluded there was no evidence of alien activity in any of the instances.

Despite those findings, the government's interest in UFOs drove news outlets and social media sites into frenzies of speculation. The conspiracy theories reached their apex when, in July 2023, David Grusch, a former U.S. intelligence official and whistleblower, claimed that the government had been secretly investigating crashed UFOs. In his congressional hearing, Grusch told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that not only had spaceships been recovered but that "nonhuman" beings had been found inside.

Despite bluntly contradicting many of Grusch's claims, the report does mention a brief period when the Pentagon considered a program to reverse-engineer alien technology. Called Kona Blue, it was proposed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by individuals who suspected the U.S. government was hiding crashed UFOs.

"This proposal gained some initial traction at DHS to the point where a 35 Prospective Special Access Program (PSAP) was officially requested to stand up this program, but it was eventually rejected by DHS leadership for lacking merit," the report said. "It is critical to note that no extraterrestrial craft or bodies were ever collected — this material was only assumed to exist by Kona Blue advocates and its anticipated contract performers."

The AARO said that later this year it will publish a second volume of the report covering sightings made between November 2023 and April 2024. The office also announced that the DOD is working on a portable sensor kit called the "Gremlin system" to investigate UFO sightings as they occur.

Ben Turner
Staff Writer

Ben Turner is a U.K. based staff writer at Live Science. He covers physics and astronomy, among other topics like tech and climate change. He graduated from University College London with a degree in particle physics before training as a journalist. When he's not writing, Ben enjoys reading literature, playing the guitar and embarrassing himself with chess.

  • fredm2308
    If an actual extraterrestrial spacecraft had crashed or landed on the Earth, which I doubt because I do not believe in UFO's. I highly doubt that more than one alien species from different solar systems/galaxies would find the Earth as UFO sitings have reported saucer shaped (some with and others without lights), cigar shaped or many other shaped "alien craft." Humans have produced, regardless of nation, very similar shaped aircraft and spacecraft (except for the Space Shuttle of course) so that's why I doubt alien craft have ever come to Earth. In any case, if one or even two extraterrestrial intelligent life were to come to Earth and view our primitive and hostile life (wars betwen nations, etc.) I doubt they would attempt to land on the Earth. As far as reverse enginering their spacecraft, their technology would probably be so far advanced than ours that we would not be able to comprehend the technology (as seen in several Star Trek TV show episodes especially when the Starship Enterprise went back in time to 20th century Earth, about 300 years from today. It would be like sending a smart phone or many modern devices back in time to the 18th century. Simply impossible to reverse engineer a device from 300 years in the future.