Stories published in the New York Times and Politico almost at the same time both detail a secret Pentagon program that went on for years, spending tens of millions of dollars to investigate “unidentified aerial phenomena,” also known as UFOs. Called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, it spent five years investigating reports from pilots and other military personnel about unexplained objects in the sky — and it may still be going on.
The program apparently began in 2007, and many parts of it are still classified. Most of the research was undertaken by an aerospace company run by billionaire Robert Bigelow, who’s expressed his belief in extraterrestrial life many times.
“I’m absolutely convinced. That’s all there is to it,” he said in an interview with CBS News. “There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence [on Earth]. And I spent millions and millions and millions — I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.”
The program has described objects that move at high speeds or hover in place without any visible propulsion. One 2004 DoD video obtained by the Times shows cockpit footage from a Navy F-18 Hornet chasing an object the size of a commercial airliner. “Look at that thing!” one pilot exclaimed to the other during the incident.
According to the Times, the program was run by a military official named Luis Elizondo deep in the bowels of the Pentagon. Although defense officials claim the program was ended in 2012, it has recently received scrutiny due to Elizondo’s recent resignation. He maintained that, despite the lack of official government funding, the program has continued with officials from the CIA and the Navy. Elizondo also claimed that he quit in protest because the program had not been taken seriously.
“We tried to work within the system,” Elizondo said to Politico. “We were trying to take the voodoo out of voodoo science.”
From 1947 to 1969, the Air Force operated Project Blue Book, a program designed to investigate sightings of unexplained aerial phenomena. The conclusion was that there had been no evidence that any of the sightings were extraterrestrial vehicles.
After departing the Pentagon, Elizondo has joined up with Tom DeLonge (formerly of Blink-182) and his To the Stars venture, which posted the video obtained by the Times on YouTube. Speaking to the Times, he said his research over the years had proven that the mysterious objects had not come from Earth. “That fact is not something any government or institution should classify in order to keep secret from the people,” he said.