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Not the X Files

Yes, those videos of UFOs are real, U.S. Navy confirms, but please call them UAPs

The truth is out there, or at least outside the U.S. military's realm of expertise. On Wednesday, however, Navy spokesman Joe Gradisher confirmed the authenticity of videos of mysterious unidentified flying objects captured by Navy pilots and published in late 2017 and 2018 by The New York Times and To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences (TTSA), a group cofounded by Blink 182's Tom DeLonge to research UFOs. Only the Navy doesn't call them UFOs.

The three videos "show incursions into our military training ranges by unidentified aerial phenomena," Gradisher said in a statement. "The Navy has characterized the observed phenomena as unidentified." CNN has some video of these UAPs, plus a first-hand account of their behavior and a quote from a former Pentagon UAP researcher suggesting "we may not be alone."

Gradisher would not speculate what the pilots saw, explaining that the Navy uses the term UAP to describe "any aerial phenomenon that cannot immediately be identified," but he did say "sightings of this nature have increased in frequency" since consumer drones have become more prevalent.

The Navy cares about the objects because UAP "incursions present a safety hazard to the safe flight of our aviators and the security of our operations," he added, and the Navy now encourages pilots to report any sightings. "For many years, our aviators didn't report these incursions because of the stigma attached to previous terminology and theories about what may or may not be in those videos," he said. Don't, in other words, call them UFOs.

Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, told NBC News that "the videos weren't really being questioned," and there's probably no easy answer to what those Navy pilots observed, "but when I look at these things I see no reason to consider them good evidence for 'alien visitation,' which is what the public likes to think they are."