What U.S. government agencies are calling “unidentified anomalous phenomena” (another name for unidentified flying objects, or UFOs) could represent a national security threat, federal officials said Wednesday—and the government needs to do a better job collecting data and being transparent with Americans about it.

Led by Long Beach Rep. Robert Garcia, the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security heard from three witnesses who testified they had personally seen or investigated incidents involving “UAPs” but that in some cases, federal agencies had ignored, buried or tried to discredit such reports.

“UAPs, whatever they may be, may pose a serious threat to our military or civilian aircraft,” and the volume of reports and whistleblowers warrants investigation by Congress, Garcia said while opening the hearing.

Those tempted to make light of the topic—one member of Congress tweeted a picture of the Capitol with a flying saucer in the sky and a gray alien posing in the foreground—might be given pause by comments from retired Navy Commander David Fravor, who said he “wasn’t a UFO person” before he saw something unexplained on a 2004 training mission at sea.

Fravor, a pilot, was sent to check out an oddity showing up on the aircraft carrier’s weapons system. He and three other military personnel saw what Fravor described as a white Tic-Tac shaped object with no visible rotors or wings that was able to accelerate rapidly and maneuver in ways they’d never seen an aircraft move.

Whatever they saw—there’s also video evidence—”we have nothing close to it,” Fravor said. “It’s an incredible technology.”

Committee members asked if information about such incidents had been concealed from the public and whether people in the military and intelligence communities had been discouraged from coming forward.

Former Navy Pilot Ryan Graves—another witness who said he’s spotted UAPs on sensor systems and spoken with numerous people who saw them in person—estimated that only 5% of UAP sightings get reported. David Grusch, a whistleblower who investigated UAPs as a former military intelligence official, said he and former colleagues are experiencing reprisals for speaking out.

Additional hearings, potentially including a closed-door meeting between committee members and Grusch, who said he has information that can’t be made public, are likely, and legislation is possible, committee members said.

Ultimately, they worried about risks to security (could UAPs be gathering information on U.S. capabilities?) and the public (what if a commercial flight collided with one?), and advocated for the creation of a system that non-military pilots and others could use to report UAPs.

Whether UAPs are secret defense technology created by the U.S. or some other nation, or they were made by non-humans, Congress has the responsibility of oversight and owes the public more information, committee members said, with Garcia noting, “transparency is the cornerstone of government.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove an inaccurate description of an image of an alien.

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