Known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Programme, the project analyses encounters between unknown objects and American jets
Out of the huge chunk of money the US spends on defence and security, a small amount is dedicated to a program to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects and alien life. This hitherto unknown fact has come to light despite repeated denials by the US defence department, according to the New York Times.
Known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Programme, which corners only $22 million of the $600 defence budget, it was a conscious decision of the Pentagon to keep it secret as much as possible. The reason – the fear of being ostracised and stigma. What is surprising is that even smaller countries like Belgium, Chile are more open and have UFO projects in their countries. China, Russia, France, England too have huge government-funded organisations dedicated to probe UFOs and existence of alien life.
The US defence officials had earlier said the programme shut down in 2012, but NYT reports that it still existed and worked from within the maze of the Pentagon office. Begun in 2007, it was initially run by Luis Elizondo, an intelligence official, and government funding started after it was strongly advocated by Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time.
In an interview, Elizondo said he cooperated with the CIA and Navy, even though funds for the programme had nosedived in subsequent years. However, the military personnel resigned from the post this October, citing increasing secrecy and internal bickering.
For the project, the government had tied up with Robert Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace, an aerospace research company. The project analyses sightings of aircraft moving at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion and encounters between unknown objects and US jets. Recently, a video released in August, showed a white oval object near two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets seen from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004.
Investigating UFO sightings is not a recent phenomenon in the US. In 1947, the US Air Force began probing more than 12,000 UFO sightings before it was officially ended in 1969. The project, code-named Project Blue Book, concluded that most sightings involved stars, clouds, conventional aircraft or spy planes, although 701 remained unexplained.
Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at MIT, said not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it was from another planet or galaxy. “When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it’s worth investigating seriously. What people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained,” NYT quoted Seager as saying.
NYT also reported that for the storage of metal alloys and materials recovered from unidentified objects, Bigelow Aerospace modified buildings in Las Vegas and the information was known to only a few people. Researchers also made a database of people who came forward to tell their experience on encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes. They also spoke to military service members who had reported sightings of strange aircraft.
The programme collected video and audio recordings of UFO incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. “There’s a whole fleet of them,” one exclaims. Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.
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