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Revealed: Recent Pentagon Program to Study UFOs

The United States military has been studying the UFO phenomenon since the late 1940s with Project Blue Book being one of the more prominent efforts. There have almost certainly been periodic, secret programs to discover what the heck was going on in the skies over America and whether the phenomenon represents a threat to the country.

The Pentagon has always taken UFOs seriously, despite public pronouncements to the contrary. Now, a very recent program that wasn't secret, but held very close to the vest, to study UFOs has been revealed by Politico and the New York Times.

The program began in 2002 when former Nevada Senator Harry Reid earmarked several million dollars to set up a serious scientific and military study of "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon." It was run by an intelligence officer, Luis Elizondo, who recently resigned and whose letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis mentioning the program became public. The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, as it was dubbed, ended in 2012.

One of Reid's major donors, Bob Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace, was apparently one of the people who convinced Reid to appropriate the money. Bigelow got some of the contracts related to the program.

The study of UFOs has come a long way since the days after World War II when most researchers were seen as kooks and crackpots. Today, the scientific method is followed in investigating credible sightings, and UFO researchers are taken seriously by at least some of the scientific community.

Is national security really at stake? There were enough people worried about it that the program eventually cost $22 million.


One possible theory behind the unexplained incidents, according to a former congressional staffer who described the motivations behind the program, was that a foreign power—perhaps the Chinese or the Russians—had developed next-generation technologies that could threaten the United States.

“Was this China or Russia trying to do something or has some propulsion system we are not familiar with?” said a former staffer who spoke with POLITICO on condition of anonymity.

Like other UFO studies, this one also appears to have simply generated a blizzard of paper without arriving at any conclusions.

The revelation of the program could give a credibility boost to UFO theorists, who have long pointed to public accounts by military pilots and others describing phenomena that defy obvious explanation, and could fuel demands for increased transparency about the scope and findings of the Pentagon effort, which focused some of its inquiries into sci-fi sounding concepts like "wormholes" and "warp drives." The program also drafted a series of what the office referred to as "queried unverified event under evaluation," QUEU reports, in which pilots and other personnel who had reported encounters were interviewed about their experiences.