WASHINGTON, D.C. (WNCN) — It’s a bird. It’s a plane. Actually, it might just really be something out of this world.

For the first time in more than 50 years, the federal government will be addressing a topic that many are passionate about, or at least curious about — unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP. That’s the term that has largely replaced the more popular UFO, or unidentified flying object.

The May 17 public hearing will draw on defense intelligence testimony from two Pentagon experts to establish what they know about UFO sightings and what could be the root cause of the phenomena.

These expert witnesses will be Ronald Moultrie, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official, and Scott Bray, Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, Space.com said.

“The American people expect and deserve their leaders in government and intelligence to seriously evaluate and respond to any potential national security risks — especially those we do not fully understand,” lawmaker André Carson (D-Indiana), who will oversee the hearing, said in a statement last week. “Since coming to Congress, I’ve been focused on the issue of unidentified aerial phenomena as both a national security threat and an interest of great importance to the American public.”

Tuesday’s hearing comes nearly two years after the creation of the UAP Task Force that works under the U.S. Department of Defense to “detect, analyze and catalog” UAP sightings that “could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security,” according to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist.

The hearing is also coming five months after a National Defense Authorization Act required the military to establish a permanent office to gather and look into the UAP issue. That document also called for an annual report and semiannual briefings for Congress.

In 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence submitted to Congress a preliminary report regarding UAP that relayed the progress the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force has made in understanding the mysterious phenomena.

The contents of this report will be the focus of the two-hour hearing that will be held under the House Intelligence Committee’s Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation Subcommittee.

According to Space.com, the report revealed navy pilots had reported 144 sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) since 2004, most of which the department concluded: “probably do represent physical objects.”

Of these reported UAP sightings, 18 displayed extremely unusual flight behaviors, with the mysterious objects appearing to “remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion,” according to the report. 

The hearing starts at 9 a.m. EDT and it will be streamed live at Space.com or directly via the House intelligence committee.