Saturday, 5 December 2009

MoD Closes Door On UFOs

It was recently announced/released (via FoIA) on the MoD website that after fifty years they are finally washing their hands of the UFO phenomenon as they have announced that they will no longer be collecting UFO reports from the public. Personally I don't think this is anywhere near as significant as it is being reported as, mainly because the lacklustre approach adopted by the MoD over the last fifty years or so has been dismissive at best and criminally negligible at worst.

Also, you can’t help but wonder if this closure is merely the culmination of a plan that was set into motion several years ago when the FoIA requests were at a peak and which ultimately led to the decision to publicly disclose the files in their entirety…..

MoD + UFO = No Defence Significance

That's not to say they are *really* to blame as the public face of the MoD, i.e. the ‘UFO desk', that dealt with this was little more than a public relations exercise anyway, an exercise which if nothing else proved a useful springboard for Nick Pope being established as the ‘go-to man' for the British (gutter) press as well as for various UFO-related documentaries, publications, radio-shows etc. etc. etc. And in case there is any doubt about the capacity of involvement allowed to those who ‘man' the UFO desk this was stated in writing by the MoD, below is a section from the FoIA document in question which was sent to Mr James Easton back in 1999:

“Mr Pope was employed as an executive Officer in Secretariat (Air Staff) 2. His post was designated Sec(AS)2a. The main duties of the post concern non-operational RAF activities overseas and diplomatic clearance policy for military flights abroad. A small percentage of time is spent dealing with reports from the public about alleged ‘UFO' sightings and associated public correspondence.”

(The scanned document can be viewed here).

The only reason I highlight this is so that one can see the prior level of commitment that the MoD awarded the UFO reports anyway, so is the loss really that great?

And the following was posted by Nick to his website on the 3rd December (2009):

MoD Terminate UFO Project

With effect from 1st December 2009, the Ministry of Defence terminated their UFO project, ending over 50 years of research and investigation. The news was slipped out in a way designed not to attract attention, by making an amendment to an existing document in the Freedom of Information section of the MoD website, entitled "How to report a UFO sighting". The announcement states that "in over fifty years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom" and goes on to say that "MOD will no longer respond to reported UFO sightings or investigate them". Having worked on the UFO project from 1991 to 1994 I am sorry to see MoD disengage in this way. I believe that where evidence suggests that UK airspace has been penetrated by an unidentified object, this must automatically be of defence interest and should be investigated properly. Indeed, I am sure that sightings from pilots and uncorrelated targets tracked on radar will continue to be looked at, albeit outside of a formally constituted UFO project. From the Fifties to the present day, MoD received around 12,000 UFO reports. While most were misidentifications of ordinary objects and phenomena, around 5% remained unexplained.


And the following was posted to on the 4th December:

UFO investigation service shut down

The Ministry of Defence has stopped investigating reported sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in the UK. A telephone number and email address which allowed the public to report sightings for investigation was closed on 1 December after the MoD decided the service was an "inappropriate use of defence resources."

The closure was revealed in a Freedom of Information request released via the MoD website. The MoD had dealt with more than 12,000 reports since it launched the reporting service in 1950 - including 135 last year. The service had cost around £50,000 a year to run and was based at RAF Command in High Wycombe. In a statement, the ministry said:

"The MoD has no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life …..However, in over fifty years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom….. The MoD has no specific capability for identifying the nature of such sightings …..There is no defence benefit in such investigation and it would be an inappropriate use of defence resources. Furthermore, responding to reported UFO sightings diverts MoD resources from tasks that are relevant to defence…..Accordingly, and in order to make best use of defence resources, we have decided that from the 1st December 2009 the dedicated UFO hotline answer-phone service and e-mail address will be withdrawn. MoD will no longer respond to reported UFO sightings or investigate them…..The ongoing programme to release departmental files on UFO matters to the National Archive will continue."


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