The Pentagon’s long-running search for extraterrestrial life is entering a new phase.
The military is launching a new UFO investigation unit, replacing a defunct Navy group, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, The Washington Post reported Friday. The effort, led by former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), also involved retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Scales and former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.).
“These elite pilots and academics toured dozens of obscure towns across the United States, hauling documents, talking to everyone and publishing papers,” according to the Post’s report. “Those governments could not explain these phenomena. Now they are joining us. Our aim will be to bring together — and mobilize — the knowledge and expertise of a broad cross-section of the civilian community.”
Mark Wright, the government’s spokesman on alien phenomena, told the Post that the military never got funding for the program to investigate UFOs, which he said began in 2007 and was canceled in 2012.
“We do not, do not, will not investigate” UFOs, Wright said.
“Why, there have been sightings out there since there’s been a lander on the moon,” Wright said. “A lot of things have flown. What’s the problem with the military conducting surveillance of objects in the universe?”
President Trump this week did not specifically cite the end of the AATIP program, as Congress was set to do in September under the bill enacting his new defense policy.
Stevens said his military team spent $20 million on a fleet of 40 X-Ray Mark 2 ultrasound machines “for close field X-ray analysis of whatever emerged from the heavens” — an effort the Post wrote did not succeed.
Among the report’s other revelations:
n Despite information gleaned from the mission, the CIA does not recognize UFOs as a foreign threat and does not want to aggressively pursue their investigation.
n In December, the Pentagon hosted its third meeting on the issue, with 1,300 people, including former members of Congress and members of the aerospace and government industries, working together in a closed-door session.
The panel formed after public reports — including a Pulitzer Prize winning expose by McClatchy Newspapers that highlighted the wide number of sightings of military aircraft flying at odd angles at an altitude far below normal routes — proved vital to continuing the government’s investigation.
The National Academy of Sciences, a civilian group of scientists and scholars, concluded in a report released in January 2015 that it has found no “definitive evidence” of aliens visiting Earth or designing any technological breakthroughs in the past 60 years. But the group, after spending about two years investigating the UFO phenomenon, said “compelling evidence exists” for extraterrestrial life and the existence of extra-terrestrial technology, the Post reported.
The academy also recommended the Pentagon study the issue, while rejecting the call for a comprehensive “UFO declaration” by the president. The Pentagon’s Wright said that the classified panel didn’t produce “a single UFO declaration,” either.
To call the new investigation a “fusion” team seems to indicate that the federal government is now trying to enlist private industry’s help, though the military has now stopped funding the old group, the report noted.