Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program
|Type||United States governmental study|
|Legal status||Secret program, formally disbanded|
|Purpose||Study of unidentified flying objects|
|$22 million over 5 years|
The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was a secret investigatory effort funded by the United States Government to study unidentified flying objects. The program was first made public on December 16, 2017. The program began in 2007, with funding of $22 million over the five years until the available appropriations were ended in 2012. The program began in the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. Although the official AATIP program has ended, a related group of interested professionals have extended the effort, founding a nonprofit organization called "To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science".
Initiated by then U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to study unexplained aerial phenomena at the urging of Reid's friend, Nevada businessman and governmental contractor Robert Bigelow, and with support from the late Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the program began in the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2007 and ended after five years, with a budget of $22 million spread out over five years.
Interviewed in the aftermath of the program's disclosure, Reid expressed pride in his accomplishment, and was quoted as saying "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."
The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program has generated a currently 490 page report that documents alleged worldwide UFO sightings over several decades. This report has not been released to the public
The program was headed by Luis Elizondo, who resigned from the Pentagon in October 2017 to protest government secrecy and opposition to the investigation, stating in a resignation letter to US Defense Secretary James Mattis that the program was not being taken seriously.
Politico published a statement by an anonymous former congressional staff member that, "After a while[,] the consensus was [that] we really couldn't find anything of substance," ..."They produced reams of paperwork. After all of that there was really nothing there that we could find. It all pretty much dissolved from that reason alone—and the interest level was losing steam. We only did it for a couple of years."
Benjamin Radford wrote in Skeptical Inquirer that among what little information has been released by the program are "several short videos of military jets encountering something they couldn't identify...." 
A complete list of all 38 published studies that were funded by the program became available in January 2019.
The program came to public attention on December 16, 2017, in news stories in Politico and The New York Times. The story in the Times included doubts about alien visitation expressed by James Oberg, a space writer and UFO debunker, and Sara Seager, a scientific specialist on the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. Oberg said "There are plenty of prosaic events and human perceptual traits that can account for these stories", although he welcomed further research. The Times also reported that "Robert Bigelow, a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid, received most of the money allocated for the Pentagon program."
Although the program was not named specifically, program leader Elizondo was quoted in The Huffington Post in late October 2017. Several days earlier, Elizondo announced his involvement in founding an aerospace, science, paranormal and entertainment company called, 'To the Stars, Inc.' or To the Stars Academy for Arts and Science.
The Washington Post reported on December 16, 2017, that Elizondo was responsible for the public release of footage taken by United States fighter jets that appears to show aerial objects maneuvering in inexplicable ways in the USS Princeton aerial object incident. The newspaper also stated that it had conducted several interviews with Elizondo and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Christopher Mellon, who is associated with Elizondo in a private venture named "To the Stars Academy for Arts and Sciences". 
On January 16, 2019, the Defense Intelligence Agency released a list of 38 research titles pursued by the program in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. One such research topic, “Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy,” was led by Eric W. Davis of EarthTech International Inc, which was founded by Harold Puthoff, who was formerly involved in Project Stargate. Another project called “Invisibility Cloaking” was headed by German scientist Ulf Leonhardt, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Leonhardt’s research pertains to theoretical quantum optics, and in 2006 his work on theoretically creating “an invisible ‘hole’ in space, inside which objects can be hidden” was cited by Nature. Yet another title, “Warp Drive, Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions,” was attributed to theoretical physicist Richard Obousy, director of the nonprofit Icarus Interstellar.
On May 22, 2019, Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood confirmed to the New York Post that the program "did pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena," dispelling rumors that the program only focused on theoretical physics. 
On May 26, 2019, The New York Times reported that U.S. Navy pilots fully briefed AATIP about encounters they had with unexplained objects during the summer of 2014 to March 2015 while flying at high altitudes off the East Coast of the United States. Nonetheless, Donald Trump, who says he had a short briefing on AATIP, says he is skeptical of such accounts.
On June 1, 2019 The Intercept published an article with an excerpt from an email obtained via Freedom of Information Act request. The excerpt called into question Elizondo's position at AATIP. Yes, AATIP existed, and it “did pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena,” Pentagon spokesperson Christopher Sherwood confirmed. However, he added: “Mr. Elizondo had no responsibilities with regard to the AATIP program while he worked in OUSDI [the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence], up until the time he resigned effective 10/4/2017.” To the Stars has attempted to clarify this with an email: “The program was initially run out of [the Defense Intelligence Agency] but when Lue took it over in 2010 as Director, he ran it out of the Office for the Secretary of Defense (OSD) under the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USDI).”  In an undated Politico article (2018/2019), Dana White confirmed that Elizondo was the director of AATIP. 
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...Robert Bigelow, the billionaire founder of an aerospace company. Bigelow has spoken about his belief in UFOs visiting the United States as well as the existence of aliens.
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