AARO Middle East Object: MQ-9 UAP Incident (2022)

In a Senate Armed Services Committee open hearing on April 19, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), presented a video featuring an unexplained silver, orb-like object. Captured by an MQ-9 drone in the Middle East, the object was seen moving across the sensor’s field of view. Although AARO concluded that the object’s behavior was not anomalous, it remains unidentified. Dr. Kirkpatrick emphasized that this video exemplifies the many cases AARO encounters with limited contextual data. Such cases are archived actively within AARO, pending further information that could potentially resolve their unidentified status.

The footage was sourced from mission report 7750816 and dated July 12, 2022, at 21:56 Zulu time, shows an unidentified silver, orb-like object moving across the field of view of an MQ-9 drone’s sensor in the Middle East.

The MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), often referred to as a drone, developed by General Atomics for the United States military. It is primarily used for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance and precision-strike missions. The MQ-9 is a more advanced version of the earlier MQ-1 Predator drone and is designed to be larger, faster, and more capable in terms of its payload and armaments.

In terms of sensors, the MQ-9 typically employs a multi-spectral targeting system, which includes various imaging and targeting capabilities such as infrared sensors, charged-coupled device (CCD) cameras for daylight and low-light operations, laser rangefinders, and laser designators for target marking. These sensors enable the drone to capture high-resolution imagery and video footage, both during daytime and nighttime, and under varying meteorological conditions.

In the context of the video featuring an unidentified object, the MQ-9’s sensors would have likely offered high-definition footage, making the sighting of the unidentified object all the more significant. The video, which shows an orb-like object moving across the sensor’s field of view, would have been captured with sufficient clarity to undergo rigorous analytical assessment by experts at the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).

The drones are versatile and can be moved relatively quickly to new locations as needed, so their deployment can change in response to emerging requirements or threats. However, these are some of the most likely places where you’d find MQ-9 Reapers deployed in the Middle East, based on historical patterns and strategic considerations.

  1. Iraq: Various airbases in Iraq have been used to host MQ-9 Reapers for surveillance and targeted strike missions.
  2. Afghanistan: Despite the drawdown of U.S. troops, drones like the MQ-9 have been used for counter-terrorism operations in the region.
  3. Qatar: The Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is a significant U.S. military facility in the Middle East and has been known to host various types of drones, including the MQ-9.
  4. United Arab Emirates: The U.S. has facilities in the UAE that could host drones for missions over the Arabian Peninsula or even further afield.
  5. Saudi Arabia: Although less common, the U.S. has had various forms of military cooperation with Saudi Arabia, and MQ-9s could be deployed there for specific missions, possibly related to Yemen.
  6. Jordan: In support of operations against ISIS and other extremist groups, Jordan has also hosted U.S. military assets, including drones.

In a recent open hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick of AARO presented high-definition video footage captured by an MQ-9 Reaper drone. This video, recorded in the Middle East, displayed an unidentified silver orb-like object. Though AARO did not find the object’s behavior to be unusual, it remains unidentified and is one of many such cases awaiting further investigation. The MQ-9, developed by General Atomics, is a versatile and sophisticated UAV widely deployed in the Middle East for various military tasks, ranging from surveillance to precision strikes. Given the drone’s advanced multi-spectral targeting system, the clarity of the footage underscores the significance of the unidentified object. Locations for possible MQ-9 deployments in the Middle East include Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, each offering strategic advantages for specific missions.