Officials with the program also studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft, including one released in August of a white oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, chased by two U.S. navy fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004.
The so-called "Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program" was the idea of former Democrat Senator Harry Reed, who at the time was the leader of the majority of Democrats in the Senate.
In 1947, the US Air Force launched Project Sign to "collect, collate, evaluate, and distribute within the government all information relating to such sightings, on the premise that UFOs might be real and of national security concern", according to a Central Intelligence Agency analysis.
His interest in UFOs was piqued by conversations with billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, whose aerospace company was tapped to conduct much of the research for AATIP's UFO sightings, Reid told the Times. The money helped Bigelow Aerospace expand its buildings in Las Vegas, Nevada to store metals and other materials recovered and attributed to unidentified phenomena.
Mr Bigelow built a headquarters to store "recovered unidentified aerial phenomena" with researchers who examined people that had "experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects". Iranian pilots frequently chased objects they thought were American drones sent to spy on the country.
The first public revelations of the programme came in a video conference aired in October by To the Stars Academy for Arts and Sciences, the firm Elizondo joined as a consultant after retiring from his Pentagon job. And the United States would be "unable to defend itself against the technologies discovered". Sen.
Reid further explained that he had also spoken about UFOs years earlier with astronaut John Glenn, the Times reported.
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He said he and Hoverson climbed inside the trains and moved wreckage out of the way to find passengers who might be stuck inside. Indeed, as local media noted earlier this month, Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson even predicted a deadly accident would come of it.
The Pentagon said in a statement the program was now over. In addition, "these observations have often been located near nuclear facilities, whether ships at sea or power plants", he told Politico.
One of the reasons the Pentagon funded the program, according to a Congressional staffer who spoke with the outlet, was that officials believed the aircraft might actually be ultra high-tech products of China or Russian Federation that warranted further examination.
In an interview with the New York Times, Reid said he doesn't regret a thing about helping to start AATIP.
Why did he stay secret for so long?
Funding for the programme was terminated in 2012.
In the military, soldiers who observed unexplained phenomena did not always talk to their superiors, "because soldiers feared to be laughed at, " says Harry Reid in the New York Times. "Our scientists are scared of being ostracized, and our media is scared of the stigma".
Is The Program Still Used?"It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change", it said, using an acronym to refer to the Department of Defense.
Official funding has been cut, but the program has not necessarily stopped. Elizondo and others maintain that despite the absence of government funding, the program has continued its research, with help from the Navy and Central Intelligence Agency. The programme operated jointly out of the Pentagon and, at least for a time, an underground complex in Las Vegas managed by Bigelow Aerospace, a defense contractor that builds modules for space stations.