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The Pentagon has revealed there were 400 reported cases of UFO sightings at a recent conference, which is the the first UFO conference the department has held in 50 years.

Senior defence officials were on hand to talk through the updated sightings list, as well as pledging their commitment in trying to understand "unidentified aerial phenomena".

Two officials, Ronald Moultrie and Scott Bray, appeared before a House of Representatives subcommittee for the first hearing on the subject in half a century.

The hearing comes just under a year after a government document reported more than 140 cases of unidentified aerial phenomena since 2004, a number which has since rocketed up to 400.

While research from Scott Bray said no evidence of aliens had been found, the deputy director of Naval intelligence said that while the incidents cannot be explained, there is nothing of alien origin.

Bray added that none of the documented objects had tried to communicate with US aviators, who had been recording UFO sightings since 2004, nor had they been able to communicate with the unidentified flying objects.

As for the increase in UFO sightings, now called UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) by the military, Bray praised innovations in military tech, including sensors and drones, as reasons for the sudden uptick in sightings.

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New data entries are being encouraged by pilots or military staff who believe they have come across a UAP, with Bray saying: "Navy and air force crews now have step-by-step procedures for reporting UAPs on their kneeboard, in the cockpit."

The session aired new information about the UFOs, with NPR reporting Moultrie noted the need for a balance between transparency and secrecy in the hearing.

But Senator Andre Carson, the committee chair for the out-of-this-world hearing, was unconvinced that the Pentagon was doing everything it could to understand UAPs.

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Carson said: "One of Congress’s concerns is that the executive branch, the administration, both parties, have been sweeping concerns about UAPs under the rug by focusing on events that can be explained, and avoiding them that cannot be explained.

"What can you say to give the American people confidence that you aren’t just focusing our attention on low-hanging fruit, the easy explanations?"

Bray acknowledged the intelligence community had "had to sometimes be less forthcoming with information," and The Guardian reported Bray as saying "we do not want potential adversaries to know exactly what we're able to see or understand".

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