Buried in the $600 billion Defense Department budget was $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. It was not easy to find, but the New York Times discovered the expense.
The mysterious program that people and movies speculated about does exist and it investigates Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO). The program was run by Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official on the fifth floor of the C Ring in the Pentagon.
According to the Defense Department, the program ran from 2007-2012, however, the backers say the Pentagon canceled funding for the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program in 2012, but it still exists.
Although parts of the program remain classified, it was mostly funded at the request of 2007 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The majority of the money went to an aerospace research company owned by Robert Bigelow, a longtime friend of Reid.
Bigelow told “60 Minutes” that he believed UFOs have visited Earth and aliens exist. The program, alongside Bigelow’s company has documentation that describes sightings, such as aircraft that moved at high velocities without visible signs of propulsion, or hovered without any apparent means of lift.
There are also videos of encounters between American military aircraft and UFOs. One encounter, released in August, told of a white oval object the size of a commercial airplane that was chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets. This incident occurred of the coast of San Diego in 2004.
Reid stated: “I think its one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.”
Astrophysicist at MIT Sara Seager reminds that just because the origin of an object is unknown does not mean it came from another planet. The phenomena are worth investigating but sometimes after scientific exploration some still remain UFOs.
Former NASA space shuttle engineer and author James E. Oberg says: “There are plenty of prosaic events and human perceptual traits that can account for these stories. Lots of people are active in the air and don’t want others to know about it. They are happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise, or even to stir it up as camouflage.” However, Oberg welcomes the research.
Pentagon officials insist the program ended in 2012. The Department of Defense determined there were issues that were a higher priority and needed funding. However, Elizondo says the only thing that came to an end in 2012 was the government funding. He continued to work with officials in the Navy and the CIA, until he resigned in October as a protest of “excessive secrecy and internal opposition.”
According to Elizondo, the UFO program continues and there was someone who assumed his position and duties when he resigned.
UFOs have been investigated for decades. In 1947, the Air Force investigated more that 12,000 sighting before the study ended in 1969. The series of studies included Project Blue Book, which began in 1952 and concluded that many of the sightings were conventional aircraft, spy planes, clouds, or stars, however, 701 were still unexplained.
At the time, Robert C. Seamans Jr. was the secretary of the Air Force. He stated that Project Blue Book came to an end because it could not be justified in the interest of science or for national security.
According to Reid, the Defense Intelligence Agency wanted to visit the ranch in Utah, where Bigelow conducted his research. After the meeting, Reid met with the officials and they wanted to begin a UFO research program, in 2007.
Several years prior, Reid spoke with astronaut John Glenn, who believed the federal government should research UFO sightings, especially those reported by military pilots.
Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel K. Inouye and Reid did not want to have a public debate on the Senate floor about funding the program. The three were the only members of Congress who knew about the Pentagon budget for the classified UFO program.
The $22 million was used to manage the program and research the threat posed by the unexplained objects from late 2008 through 2011. The money went to Bigelow Aerospace who hired subcontractors and solicited research to aid the program.
Under the program and Bigelow’s direction, Las Vegas buildings were modified to store metal alloys and materials that has been recovered from UFOs. Scientists studied the people who claimed they experiences physical effects from interacting with the objects. They were also examined for physiological changes. Pilots and military service members who saw strange aircraft were interviewed and their sightings documented.
Harold E. Puthoff is an engineer who conducted extrasensory perception research for the CIA described it as giving a garage-door opener to Leonardo da Vinci: He would not recognize the plastic material or understand the electromagnetic signals or its function.
Video and audio recordings were collected. There is footage of an aircraft surrounded by a glowing aura, moving at intense speed, and rotating as it moved from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. In the recording, pilots can be heard trying to understand the object. One exclaimed, “There’s a whole fleet of them!” The date and location of this incident remains classified.
According to Bigelow, the United States is the most backward in the world on this issue. Scientists do not want to be ostracized and the media fears the stigma. However, Russia and China work with large organizations to study the phenomena. Even England, France, Belgium, and South American countries openly discuss UFOs without fear.
In 2009, Reid argued for heightened security for the program. Reid wrote a letter to deputy defense secretary William Lynn III, “Much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace-related findings.” Reid wanted the program to become a restricted special access program, limited to only a few officials.
His request was denied. The Pentagon summary of the program stated that the United States could not defend itself against some of the discovered technologies. According to Elizondo’s resignation letter, there was a serious need to investigate the multiple accounts from the Navy and other military services of aerial systems that interfere with weapons platforms and displayed capabilities that would perplex the next generation. He expressed his frustration with the limitations of the program and stated there is a vital need toascertain capability and intent of these phenomena for the benefit of the military and the country.
Elizondo joined Puthoff and Christopher K. Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence. They began their own UFO commercial venture, To the Starts Academy of Arts and Science. They have gone public with their research to raise money for the efforts.
During an interview with the New York Times, Elizondo stated that some of the phenomena studied did not appear to originate from any country. “That fact is not something any government or institution should classify in order to keep secret from the people.”
By Jeanette Smith
The New York Times: Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program
FOX 32: Defense Dept. spent $22 million/year on UFO research
Newsweek: PENTAGON SEARCHED FOR ALIENS AND UFOS AT HARRY REID’S REQUEST: REPORT
Featured Image Courtesy of Jonas Bengtsson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of Peter Prehn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License