A defence minister been pressed in Parliament over the potential threat posed to the UK by unidentified flying objects.
Assurances were sought at Westminster following the publication of a Pentagon report which said the phenomena “may pose a challenge to US national security”.
However, the British Government has said it has no plans to conduct its own investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), better known to the public as UFOs, “because in over 50 years no such reporting had indicated the existence of any military threat to the United Kingdom”.
The interim Pentagon report said of 144 sightings by military pilots since 2004, all but one remain unexplained.
It also said while there were “no clear indications that there is any non-terrestrial explanation” for the objects, it also did not rule it out.
Pointing out they “probably lack a single explanation”, it added: “UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to US national security.”
Raising the US report in Parliament, former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Sarfraz said: “For decades people who have been concerned with UFOs have been dismissed as fantasists.
“But now the US director of national intelligence, who oversees 17 intelligence agencies, has published a report saying that data on UFOs is inconclusive.
“The report offers several possible explanations.
“It does not rule out that these could be military aircraft with very fast capabilities or even extraterrestrial phenomena.
“Either way can the minister reassure members of the public that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) takes reports of unidentified objects in our airspace very seriously?”
Responding, defence minister Baroness Goldie said: “The MoD deals with actual threats substantiated by evidence.
“The Government continues to take any potential threat to the UK seriously.”
Tory peer Viscount Ridley said: “Unidentified does not mean suspicious.
“Does the minister recognise the US report referred to says there is no clear indication that there is any non-terrestrial explanation for the 144 sightings?
“The idea that in an era of mobile phone cameras, drones and frequent travel there could possibly be alien spaceships whizzing about undetected in our atmosphere on a regular basis is not I think very plausible.
“It’s much more likely that these blurred images have boring explanations alas.”
Lady Goldie said: “The UK air defence community detect and monitor all flying air systems 24 hours a day to provide an identified air picture as part of the UK’s national security posture and our commitment to the integrity of Nato airspace.”
That was supported by Typhoon combat aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire “held at high readiness ready to intercept any threat to UK airspace”.
Lady Goldie said: “We deal with actual threats substantiated by evidence.”
Labour frontbencher Lord Coaker said: “The Pentagon has said that unidentified aerial phenomena are actually a serious national security threat.
“Does she agree with that US analysis of the threat from unidentified aerial phenomena and therefore is the UK suffering from a similar threat that the US has identified?”
Lady Goldie said: “We regard threats as having to exist in the first place.
“We regard them as having to be substantiated by evidence and that’s because we need to know what we are addressing and how best we can address it.
“We are of course aware of the US assessment.
“The MoD has no plans to conduct its own report into UAP because in over 50 years no such reporting had indicated the existence of any military threat to the United Kingdom.”