THE government needs to take "immediate action" after revealing there had been 11 near-miss collisions with UFOs, an expert has urged.
The revelation that US airmen had almost collided with unidentified aerial phenomena - or UAPs - was made in Tuesday's historic congress meeting on the subject.
During the public discussion - the first for half a century - congress grilled defense officials on the number of sightings and their origins - but many questions were left unanswered.
Nick Pope, who investigated UFOs for the British Ministry of Defence, said he hoped the admission that there had been a number of near-misses would make people take the issue seriously - warning "we might not be so lucky next time".
"The hearing wasn't the disclosure that some people in the UFO lobby were hoping for, but it's a welcome step forward," Pope exclusively told The US Sun.
"It was very clear that a lot of the representatives had looked at this closely and thought about it deeply and were really holding the Department of Defence (DoD) accountable and pushing aggressively for answers and rightly so.
"Even though there wasn't a huge amount of new information, I still think it was positive and a step forward. The DoD were clearly very cautious and guarded and didn't want to unpack too much in the unclassified session."
He added: "But there were some interesting nuggets there. I think they rightly focused on near misses between UAP and aircraft - saying there had been 11 of them, which reinforces the fact that this is an important air safety issue.
"If you have 11 near misses, eventually your luck runs out, and the next one won't be a miss. So let's take immediate action before we actually have a collision.
"And all throughout the briefing, I think it, it was totally acknowledged that whatever we are dealing with, it's a defense and national security issue."
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Pope said it was also significant that while officials kept a lot of information under wraps, they did not rule out the idea that UFOs could be of alien origin.
He said: "The key phrase that caught my ear was 'open to all hypotheses.' And that, to me, says they have not ruled out the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
"The DoD always hides behind the fact that a lot of these cases are unidentified, which is fair enough, but they must have what's known as 'a best current assessment' - so what is the most likely explanation for these UAP sightings?
"I just wish that one of the representatives had put them on the spot and said, 'What is your best current assessment?"
He added: "They could have zeroed in, for example, on the three best known UAP videos and asked what their best current assessment was. They must have one.
"What about ranking the competing theories in order of likelihood? So it could be: either it's our own technology, it's adversarial technology, it's extraterrestrial, it's exotic atmospheric plasma phenomena. Almost like a league table of possible explanations."
'LACK OF KNOWLEDGE'
Pope also said he was "disappointed" with what he called a "lack of knowledge" of some of the bigger known UFO sightings in US history.
This included the astonishing 1967 Malmstom incident where 10 nuclear weapons were disabled and men saw a UFO in the sky at a top-secret military base.
Pope thinks the DoD needs to look through their own back history to see what hidden information they might find.
"I was disappointed, but not surprised that the DoD had a lack of knowledge of big cases such as Malmstron," Pope said.
"The DoD seemed to have made a decision to reset the clock and start acting as if all this starts in 2004 with the Nimitz and it doesn't, it comes with a nearly 80-year backstory, which has been largely ignored or forgotten.
"And I think Congress is getting more aware of and interested in that near 80-year backstory and, and DOD as much as they might try to say, well, let's start in 2004, I think, need to go back further and need to look at cases like Malmstrom, Roswell, the Phoenix lights, Rendlesham Forest, and all the big flagship cases.
"They need to see what data they have buried away somewhere in the bureaucracy."