The US has “scientific evidence” of unidentified flying objects thanks to the Pentagon’s secret UFO unit, the senator who set it up has said.
Harry Reid, a retired former Democratic Senator, succeeded in launching the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Programme (AATIP) in 2007 after requesting initial funding for the project.
The unit, which the Department of Defence (DoD) insists was terminated in 2012, produced documents that described sightings of aircraft that travelled at extremely high speeds with no visible signs of propulsion.
“If this movement took place in anything we now have available to us, it would kill everybody,” Mr Reid told Las Vegas news channel KLAS Channel 8, in reference to reported encounters with UFOs. They couldn’t withstand those g-forces. Something sitting there, ‘whoom’, down it goes.”
Previously classified footage released by the DoD showed US fighter jet pilots as they tracked an unidentified aerial object gliding above the Pacific ocean in 2004. The object had been detected appearing suddenly at 80,000 feet by the USS Princeton, a naval cruiser, which had been tracking mysterious aircraft for two weeks.
Commander David Fravor told The New York Times the object was about 40ft long, had no plumes, wings or rotors, and outpaced their F-18s. It was big enough to churn the sea 50ft below it, he said.
“I have no idea what I saw … It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he added, admitting he was “pretty weirded out”.
Mr Reid said countries including China, Russia and Japan were already taking UFOs seriously, and that it was important the US did the same. Asked if he was glad the revelations had been made public, Mr Reid responded: “I’m very glad, because now we have scientific evidence.”
KLAS Channel 8 reported Mr Reid had told them one factor in the shutting down of AATIP was intelligence officials’ fears the findings would end up on the front page of a newspaper. He also said some officials had religious objections to the unit.
Most of the $22m (£15m) funding for the research went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire and friend of Mr Reid’s, Robert Bigelow. Mr Bigelow has said he is “absolutely convinced” UFOs have visited Earth.
But Mr Reid denied his friend’s company was given preferential treatment. “Even though this was a secure programme, we wanted to make sure people couldn’t complain that it was some sweetheart deal. No, it was put out to bid,” he said.