The national security concerns that surfaced over the suspected Chinese spy balloon (and its destruction) now appear, with hindsight, to have been largely overblown. Nevertheless, the near-hysteria over this now “identified” flying object did serve to highlight a far more important national-security issue, namely, the continuing mystery surrounding the origin and identity of exotic UFOs, “unidentified” flying objects that hover in place, execute right-angle turns, and often become “evasive” when sighted.

So what are exotic UFOs?

Some in the research community were hoping that the recent release of the congressionally mandated 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would provide some preliminary answers to that question. It did not. Indeed, that short and unremarkable report disappointed both UAP/UFO skeptics and supporters alike.

Skeptics would have preferred to see most UAP/UFOs dismissed as misidentified conventional objects such as drones and balloons, and indeed almost half of the 366 newly reported UAP fell into that category. But remarkably the other half did not, and some were even said to demonstrate “unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities, [that] require further analysis.”