The Pentagon has admitted that it investigates reports of UFOs, or rather "unidentified aerial phenomena," as they're called by the government, the New York Post reported.
A secret initiative, dubbed, Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, "did pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena," but it was shut down in 2012, Department of Defense spokesman Christopher Sherwood told the Post.
But Sherwood also acknowledged that the government still investigates claims of unidentified aircraft sightings.
"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," he told the newspaper. "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."
John Greenewald Jr., who runs the Black Vault website, which archives declassified government documents on UFO reports and other matters, said the Pentagon's candor in using "unidentified aerial phenomena" surprised him.
"I'm shocked they said it that way, and the reason is, is they've seemingly worked very hard not to say that," he told the Post. "So I think that's a pretty powerful statement because now we have actual evidence — official evidence — that said, 'Yes, AATIP did deal with UAP cases, phenomena, videos, photos, whatever.'"
The AATIP started in 2007 and received $22 million in annual funding. It was largely funded at the request of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to the New York Times.
"I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going," Reid said during a previous interview. "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."
Nevada is home to the top secret U.S. Air Force military installation known as Area 51.
A number of conspiracy theories surround the installation, including the rumor that it's the storage facility for an alien aircraft that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.