Sean Kirkpatrick
© CopyrightSean Kirkpatrick, ex-Director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), which the Department of Defense has tasked with studying UFOs
Last week, the Pentagon's new UFO office, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), unveiled its long-awaited website. Tucked among previously-released graphics, transcripts and videos is an important new document outlining the office's mission and objectives.

Within hours of the site's launch, eagle-eyed sleuths noticed that an image of a spherical object, divided into quarters, appears on the corners of the "Mission Overview" document. Further analysis determined that the image is a stock photo titled "alien technology in a metallic ball."

While such "alien" and "metallic ball" references might otherwise be chalked up to a crude prank, closer analysis suggests that there is more than meets the eye.

According to AARO director Seán Kirkpatrick, the most common observations claimed in the 800 reports received by his office as of late May are of "spheres," 3 to 13 feet in diameter and "white, silver, [or] translucent" in color. Two videos and two images of objects fitting this description, all recorded by U.S. servicemembers, have emerged in recent years.

In a May presentation, Kirkpatrick described these perplexing objects in greater detail while presenting footage of a "metallic," "spherical orb" recorded by a surveillance drone in the Middle East.

Referring to the object in the video, Kirkpatrick stated, "This is a typical example of the thing that we see most of. We see these all over the world and we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers."

Intriguingly, sensors have apparently observed such objects traveling at speeds ranging from stationary to Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound, with "no thermal exhaust detected."

According to Kirkpatrick, this highly anomalous range of attributes amounts to a UFO profile — a "target package" — that AARO is "out hunting for."

Importantly, many of the reports involving "metallic orbs" are based "very much" on "multi-sensor observations" — the gold standard of data and evidence.

This invites an obvious question: How can spherical objects, lacking wings or apparent means of propulsion, remain stationary against strong winds or travel at the speed of sound? Moreover, how could they conduct such remarkable maneuvers without emitting any heat signature?

Of particular note, the peculiar UAP performance characteristics outlined by Kirkpatrick are identical to those described by former U.S. Navy fighter pilot Ryan Graves, who testified under oath during a July 26 congressional hearing.

Graves, along with at least 50-60 naval aviators, observed spherical objects capable of remaining stationary against hurricane-force winds or moving at the speed of sound on a daily basis in 2014 and 2015. Moreover, the mysterious craft remained aloft for extreme durations, far outlasting fighter jets.

Encounters with objects capable of executing such highly anomalous flight characteristics date back at least 80 years. During World War II, American aircrews reported observing mysterious "silvery balls" and "silver colored spheres" which, as with more recent reports, occasionally appeared "semi-translucent." When observed at night, the objects — termed "foo fighters" by 1940s-era aviators — frequently appeared as glowing, fiery red or orange balls.

A transformational 1947 Air Force document, the Twining Memo, states that the UFO "phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious." Moreover, according to the memo, UFOs observed by aviators exhibit "extreme rates of climb, maneuverability...and action which must be considered evasive when sighted." This, the document states, leads to "the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically or remotely."

Critically, according to the Twining Memo, the most common UFO descriptions include "circular or elliptical" objects with a "metallic or light reflecting surface." Like recent descriptions of round, metallic objects demonstrating "no thermal exhaust," the 1947 document specifically notes the objects' "absence of [an exhaust] trail."

Similarly, a 1952 CIA document describes the most commonly observed UFO characteristics as "spherical or elliptical objects, usually of bright metallic lustre."

In September 1952, NATO conducted its first major naval exercise in the Atlantic Ocean. According to Capt. Edward Ruppelt — then-director of Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force's two-decade-long UFO analysis and, eventually, "debunking " effort — a journalist embedded aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt aircraft carrier "saw a group of pilots and flight deck crew watching something in the sky. He went back to look and there was a silver sphere moving across the sky."

The journalist, Wallace Litwin, ultimately took three photographs of the object. Initially thought to be a weather balloon, Ruppelt stated that "Naval Intelligence double-checked, triple-checked and quadruple-checked every ship near the carrier but they could find no one who had launched the UFO."

The next day, according to Ruppelt, "six [British] pilots flying a formation of jet fighters over the North Sea saw...a shiny, spherical object."

As Ruppelt recounts, the pilots "couldn't recognize it as anything 'friendly' so they took after it. But in a minute or two they lost it. When they neared their base, one of the pilots looked back and saw that the UFO was now following him. He turned but the UFO also turned, and again it outdistanced the [plane] in a matter of minutes."

Then, on the third consecutive day, according to Ruppelt, "a UFO showed up near the fleet." A pilot "was scrambled and managed to get his jet fairly close to the UFO, close enough to see that the object was 'round, silvery, and white' and seemed to 'rotate around its vertical axis and sort of wobble.' But before he could close in to get a really good look it was gone."

According to Ruppelt, these daily encounters with "silvery," "spherical objects" "caused the [British Royal Air Force] to officially recognize the UFO."

Similarly, a December 1953 CIA document describes a Swedish newspaper report of an airline chief pilot and a flight engineer who observed a "completely unorthodox, metallic, symmetric, round object" flying at high speed.

Beyond these accounts, Ruppelt described numerous instances of U.S. military encounters with such objects. According to "Rupe," fighter pilots serving in the Korean War "reported seeing silver-colored spheres or disks on several occasions."

The extraordinary consistency among such UFO encounters — from World War II through the present — is remarkable.

It should come as little surprise, then, that beyond the "alien technology in a metallic ball" imagery surreptitiously tucked away in a government document, the office's logo prominently features a silver, metallic sphere.

Perhaps most intriguingly, Kirkpatrick recently co-authored a draft scientific paper hypothesizing that an extraterrestrial "parent craft" could release "many small probes" to "reach the Earth or other solar system planets for exploration."
Marik von Rennenkampff served as an analyst with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, as well as an Obama administration appointee at the U.S. Department of Defense.