(The Center Square) – Members of Illinois’ congressional delegation don’t know what’s out there, but they know it needs to be researched and understood for security reasons.

Last month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a preliminary assessment of what they called Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs.

The report collects sightings from government agencies between 2004 to 2021 and says some appear to demonstrate advanced technology that can’t be explained.

“Some UAP observations could be attributable to developments and classified programs by U.S. entities,” the report said. “We were unable to confirm, however, that these systems accounted for any of the UAP reports we collected.”

While other sightings may be attributed to sensor glitches – or even birds – the report says other UAP may be technologies deployed by China, Russia, another nation, or a non-governmental entity.

But there was an “Other” category.

“With the exception of the one instance where we determined with high confidence that the reported UAP was airborne clutter, specifically a deflating balloon, we currently lack sufficient information in our dataset to attribute incidents to specific explanations,” the report said.

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said it’s important to get to the bottom of it.

“It seems to defy logical explanation in many respects,” Durbin said. “I think we owe it to our own national security and curiosity to ask the questions and come up with as many answers as possible. I don’t have any theory as to whether or not it’s some exaggerated report, but there’s enough evidence now to justify pursuing it.”

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, was recently appointed to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. He said he can’t divulge classified information about UFOs, but says the issue deserves more investigation.

And, it’s not just a national security concern for the United States. He said other countries are also seeing unexplained things in the skies.

“Other allies around the world have picked up similar sightings of these same identified objects and I think you’ll see a continued focus by the military and the intelligence services to get the origins of those,” LaHood told WMAY. “But I’m not sure we learned anything more definitive [from the UAP report] that we didn’t already know before.”

He said it’s not just the military that has picked up UFO or UAPs, but many other people have as well.

Over the past 20 years, the National UFO Reporting Center shows nearly 4,000 unverified reports of unidentified flying objects in Illinois alone.

Of the most recent reports from the first half of this year, sightings happened in Decatur, Metropolis, Crest Hill, Chicago, Northbrook, St. Charles, Springfield, Palatine, Quincy, Payson, Dixon, Kingston, Willowbrook, Normal, Mattoon, Belleville, Blooming, Essex and Flat Rock.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.