The movies, all taken from cockpit cameras, present pilots struggling to lock their radars on oval-shaped vessels that, on display screen, look vaguely like big flying Tic Tacs. The unusual plane – no claims are made about their attainable origins or make-up – seem to hover briefly earlier than sprinting away at speeds that elicit gasps and shouts from the pilots.
Mr Elizondo, in an inside Pentagon memo requesting that the movies be cleared for public viewing, argued that the photographs might assist educate pilots and enhance aviation security. However in interviews, he mentioned his final intention was to make clear a little-known program Mr Elizondo himself ran for seven years: a low-key Protection Division operation to gather and analyze reported UFO sightings.
The existence of this system, often called the Superior Aviation Risk Identification Program, was confirmed formally for the primary time Saturday by a Pentagon spokesman. The acknowledgment got here in response to media inquiries, which had been generated partially by a start-up firm Mr Elizondo has joined since retirement. The non-public firm specialises in selling UFO analysis for scientific and leisure functions.
Present and former Pentagon officers verify that the Pentagon program has been in existence since 2007 and was shaped for the aim of accumulating and analyzing a variety of “anomalous aerospace threats” starting from superior plane fielded by conventional U.S. adversaries to industrial drones to attainable alien encounters. It’s a uncommon occasion of ongoing authorities investigations right into a UFO phenomenon that was the topic of a number of official inquiries within the 1950s and 1960s.
Spending for this system totaled not less than $22 million, based on former Pentagon officers and paperwork seen by The Washington Submit, however the funding formally led to 2012. “It was decided that there have been different, increased precedence points that merited funding and it was in one of the best curiosity of the DOD to make a change,” Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson defined in an announcement.
However officers acquainted with the initiative say the gathering effort continued as lately as final month. This system operated collectively out of the Pentagon and, not less than for a time, an underground advanced in Las Vegas managed by Bigelow Aerospace, a protection contractor that builds modules for house stations. It generated not less than one report, a 490-page quantity that describes alleged UFO sightings in the USA and quite a few international international locations over a number of many years.
Neither the Pentagon nor any of this system’s managers have claimed conclusive proof of extraterrestrial guests, however Mr Elizondo, citing accounts and knowledge collected by his workplace over a decade, argues that the movies and different proof did not generate the sort of high-level consideration he believes is warranted. As a part of his choice to depart the Pentagon, he not solely sought the discharge of movies but in addition penned a letter to Protection Secretary Jim Mattis complaining potential safety risk was being ignored.
“Regardless of overwhelming proof at each the categorized and unclassified ranges, sure people within the [Defense] Division stay staunchly against additional analysis on what might be a tactical risk to our pilots, sailors and troopers, and maybe even an existential risk to our nationwide safety,” Mr Elizondo mentioned within the letter, a replica of which was offered to The Submit.
The primary public revelations of this system got here in a video convention aired in October by To the Stars Academy for Arts and Sciences, the agency Mr Elizondo joined as a marketing consultant after retiring from his Pentagon job. The New York Occasions and Politico reported the existence of this system on their web sites Saturday. The Washington Submit performed a number of confidential interviews over two months with Elizondo and Christopher Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of protection for intelligence who is also an officer of the non-public agency.
Paperwork offered by the previous officers included letters of assist by former Senate majority chief Harry Reid, D-Nev., a key backer of the initiative who helped safe funding for this system and sought to make sure a excessive diploma of secrecy. Mr Elizondo mentioned data of this system was restricted, even throughout the Pentagon itself. He mentioned this system had a number of enemies at senior ranges of the division, from officers who had been both skeptical or ideologically against AATIP’s mission.
“I used to be honored to serve on the DOD and took my mission of exploring unexplained aerial phenomena fairly critically,” Mr Elizondo mentioned. “Ultimately, nevertheless, I could not perform that mission, as a result of the division – which was understandably overstretched – could not give it the assets that the mounting proof deserved.”
It’s tough to attract conclusions in regards to the nature of the unidentified vessels from the movies alone. Consultants usually urged warning, explaining that reported UFO sightings typically end up of have innocuous explanations.
A retired Navy pilot contacted by The Submit who was concerned in a 2004 encounter depicted in one of many movies confirmed that the photographs precisely mirrored his recollection of the occasions. The pilot would solely communicate on the situation of anonymity.
Mr Elizondo, a 22-year veteran of the division who has held high safety clearance and labored on secret counterintelligence missions, mentioned he selected to affix the non-public enterprise as a result of he believed it was the easiest way to proceed the work he was unable to finish as a authorities worker.
“I left to search out an atmosphere the place investigating these phenomena is precedence primary,” he mentioned.