The program has described objects that move at high speeds or hover in place without any visible propulsion.
From 2008 through 2011, the Pentagon secretly spent US$22 million on a little-known program to research and investigate the threats posed by unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
The program has countless videos of UFO encounters by military personnel, as well as interview about firsthand accounts, physiological studies of those who've come into contact with unusual crafts, and possibly even samples of odd technology.
It was initially funded at the request of former U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and much of the money spent on the program went to Robert Bigelow, the same Bigelow who is now working with NASA to create the expandable modules being tested on the ISS. The Defense Department says the program shut down in 2012, although Elizondo told The Times the only thing that ended in 2012 was ended was government's funding of the program. "Much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace-related findings", Mr. Reid wrote in a letter to a deputy defense secretary at the time. He maintained that, despite the lack of official government funding, the program has continued with officials from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Navy.
Bigelow Airspace used the money to build a warehouse in Nevada to store unidentified artifacts obtained from UFOs, as well as compile witness accounts.
Reid enlisted support of two other lawmakers, Ted Stevens, the late Republican senator from Alaska, and Democrat Daniel K. Inouye, representing Hawaii.
In 1947, the Air Force investigated more than 12,000 claimed sightings. The program's funding, Reid believed, should not have not been debated publicly in Congress.
The Times reported that the program yielded documents describing sightings of unidentified flying aircraft and video of encounters between unknown objects and United States military aircraft. The program also reportedly studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft. He's gone on to work on privately funded UFO research projects.
The videos, all taken from cockpit cameras, show pilots struggling to lock their radars on oval-shaped vessels that, on screen, look vaguely like giant flying Tic Tacs. It simply means that we don't know where the object came from or what it is.
Speaking at the conference in October, Elizondo told the public that during the years of managing the program he became convinced that "the [UFO] phenomena is indeed real".
However, a former staffer working with Reid told Politico that the program failed to find "anything of substance", but bore "reams of paperwork" instead.
"I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going", Reid said. "I've done something that no one has done before". Elizondo said knowledge of the program was limited, even within the Pentagon itself.