A PENTAGON official who ran a £16million programme which investigated the existence of UFOs and aliens says he believes travellers from outer space have already visited Earth.
Luis Elizondo oversaw the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which ran for five years between 2007 and 2012.
He told CNN: “My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.”
“These aircraft – we’ll call them aircraft – are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the US inventory nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of.
“Things that don’t have any obvious flight services, any obvious forms of propulsion, and manoeuvring in ways that include extreme manoeuvrability beyond, I would submit, the healthy G-forces of a human or anything biological.”
Officials in the US Defense Department this week acknowledged for the first time that they ran the programme.
Parts of their shadowy work – which is still continuing to this day – are classified. But the Pentagon confirmed that audio and video of two US Navy pilots chasing an unidentified flying object near San Diego was investigated as part of the programme.
The footage, released in August, showed that the UFO rotated and maintained a “glowing aura”.
The Advanced Aerospace project was set up at the behest of now retired US Democratic Senator Harry Reid.
Most of the money for the programme went to an aerospace research company run by billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA.
The programme produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities.
It also reported on aircraft with no visible signs of propulsion, or ones that hovered with no apparent means of lift.
That included the footage of the fighter jet chase, when the pilots followed the UFO from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004.
Another incident involved a Navy Super Hornet jet following a UFO that emitted a “glowing aura travelling at high speed and rotating as it moves”.
In audio and video, the pilot is heard to exclaim: “There’s a whole fleet of them.”
Mr Reid confirmed he set up the program, adding: “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going.
“I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service.
I’ve done something that no one has done before.”
Pentagon officials acknowledged the existence of the programme yesterday, which began as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Officials insisted that the effort had ended after five years in 2012.
A spokesman 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 Defense to make a change.”
But Mr Elizondo confirmed that he continued to work with officials from the Navy and the CIA on the program until he resigned from office in October.
He quit in protest over excessive secrecy and lack of resources for the programme.
UFOs have been repeatedly investigated over the decades in the US, including by the American military.
In 1947, the Air Force began a series of studies that investigated more than 12,000 claimed UFO sightings before it was officially ended in 1969.
The project concluded that most sightings involved stars, clouds, conventional aircraft or spy planes, although 701 remained unexplained.
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