According to a story published by The New York Post, the US Department of Defense admitted it ran a government initiative called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) with the mandate to “pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena,” before folding in 2012.
Department of Defense spokesman Christopher Sherwood revealed the program’s existence to the NY Post, noting that despite its closure, the Pentagon still investigates sightings of alien spacecraft.
“The Department of Defense is always concerned about maintaining positive identification of all aircraft in our operating environment, as well as identifying any foreign capability that may be a threat to the homeland,” Sherwood said. (Related: Navy pilots recall encounters with “fleet of UFOs” from 2014 to 2015.)
Sherwood added that the department will continue to investigate reports of unidentified aircraft encountered by US military aviators. According to Sherwood, this is in order to ensure “the defense of the homeland and protection against strategic surprise by our nation’s adversaries.” Sherwood clarified that the investigation will go through normal procedures.
Nick Pope, a media commentator and former British defense official who investigated UFOs during the 1990s, told the NY Post that the comments made by the Pentagon through Sherwood are a “bombshell revelation.”
“This new admission makes it clear that they really did study what the public would call ‘UFOs,’ ” Pope said, adding that the term the Pentagon used ?— UAP ?—was a term used by the British Ministry of Defence to remove the baggage associated with the more familiar term, UFO.
Sherwood’s revelation regarding the Pentagon’s program comes a few months after political news website Politico ran a story detailing the US Navy’s new guidelines on the collection of information regarding purported UFO sightings.
According to a statement the department made on Politico, the US Navy’s new guidelines were “…designed to make it easier for sailors to report UFO sightings, ” noting the recently reported upswings in the number of what it deemed to be “highly advanced aircraft” on its air space.
Writer and producer John Greenewald Jr. echoed Pope’s statements, noting that the Pentagon’s use of the term “unidentified aerial phenomena” is “unprecedented in its frankness.”
“I’m shocked they said it that way, and the reason is, is they’ve seemingly worked very hard not to say that,” Greenewalde Jr., who runs a website archiving declassified government documents on UFO reports, “Bigfoot” sightings and other subjects, said, adding that he finds the Pentagon’s statement “powerful.”
Greenewald hopes that the Pentagon will release more information about the program, either voluntarily, or through requests made under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The existence of the AATIP was first made public by former Pentagon official Luis Elizondo, who released an explosive tell-all about the $22 million program in 2017, which coincided with the leak of a 33-second-long clip showing an airborne object being chased by two Navy jets just off the coast of San Diego in 2004.
Interested in learning more about the Universe and what lies beyond? Head over to Space.news for more stories.