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UAP stands for unidentified aerial phenomenon (pl., phenomena), a 21st Century substitution intended to overcome the ridicule assigned to UFOs, or Unidentified Flying Objects, of the 20th Century.

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"The unidentified aerial phenomenon" can refer to the existence of craft in the skies in general.[1] The abbreviation is more likely to be used for the appearance of a single craft, with "UAPs" used to refer to multiple sightings.[2]


  1. E.g., The Phenomenon (2020), Nuclear Weapons and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon: A Call for Open Hearings on the National Security Implications, annotated here
  2. Greg Eghigian., August 5, 2021: UFOs, UAPs—Whatever We Call Them, Why Do We Assume Mysterious Flying Objects Are Extraterrestrial?

See also