WASHINGTON - The Pentagon admitted that it still investigates reports of UFOs, or "unidentified aerial phenomena," in a statement that a former U.K. defense official called "a bombshell revelation," according to a New York Post report.
A Department of Defense spokesman exclusively told the Post in a statement that a secret government initiative called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program "did pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena."
Even though the DOD said it shut down the AATIP in 2012, spokesman Christopher Sherwood acknowledged that the department still investigates claimed sightings of alien spacecraft, the Post reported.
"The Department of Defense is always concerned about maintaining positive identification of all aircraft in our operating environment, as well as identifying any foreign capability that may be a threat to the homeland," Sherwood told the publication.
"The department will continue to investigate, through normal procedures, reports of unidentified aircraft encountered by U.S. military aviators in order to ensure defense of the homeland and protection against strategic surprise by our nation's adversaries."
In 2017, the AATIP's existence was revealed, along with a 33-second DOD video that shows two Navy jets chasing an airborne object off the coast of San Diego in 2004, the report said.
At the time, Harry Reid, D-Nev., former Senate majority leader, had taken credit for arranging $22 million of annual funding for the AATIP, the outlet reported. Reid, through a spokeswoman, declined the Post's request for comment.
Nick Pope is a former U.K. defense official who secretly investigated UFOs for the British government during the 1990s, according to the Post. He called the DOD's comments a "bombshell revelation."
"Previous official statements were ambiguous and left the door open to the possibility that AATIP was simply concerned with next-generation aviation threats from aircraft, missiles and drones -- as skeptics claimed," he told the publication. "This new admission makes it clear that they really did study what the public would call 'UFOs.'"
This story was reported in Los Angeles.