The Pentagon has admitted it ran a secret program to investigate sightings of unidentified flying objects for five years.
$22 million was spent to study UFOs in the 2007-12 Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification program, whose existence has now been confirmed by the Department of Defense.
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An official formerly in charge of the program told media it remains alive to this day.
The program, which the US Department of Defense ha been keeping under wraps, was brought to light in reports by Politico and the New York Times.
The truth is out there.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) December 16, 2017
The Independent reports: The programme ran from 2007 to 2012 with $22m (£15m) in annual funding, which was hidden in US Defence Department budgets worth hundreds of billions of dollars, The New York Times reported.
Initial funding came largely at the request of former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat long known for his enthusiasm for space phenomena, the newspaper said.
Most of the money went to an aerospace research company ran by Robert Bigelow, a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr Reid.
“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Mr Reid told The New York Times.
But according to its backers, the programme remains in existence and officials continue to investigate UFO episodes brought to their attention by service members alongside their other duties, the paper said.
A former congressional staffer told the Politico news website that the programme may have been established to monitor whether a rival foreign power had developed potentially threatening next-generation technology.
“Was this China or Russia trying to do something or has some propulsion system we are not familiar with?” they asked.
The Pentagon openly acknowledged the fate of the programme.
“The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Programme ended in the 2012 timeframe,” Laura Ochoa, a spokeswoman said. ”It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the Department of Defence to make a change.
But the Pentagon was less clear about whether the programme has continued since then.