Pentagon's secret, defunct UFO-hunting program may still exist

Is the Pentagon secretly investigating UFOs or not?
Is the Pentagon secretly investigating UFOs or not? (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The U.S. government's search for unidentified flying objects (UFOs) is ongoing, and is part of a program called the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force (UAPTF) that operates under the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, according to recent Senate committee reports. 

This agency appears to have assumed the responsibilities of another UFO-hunting Pentagon group that was purportedly disbanded in 2012; UAPTF's findings could be made public within the next six months, The New York Times reported on July 23.

While the results of UAPTF's investigations are classified (for now, at least), a briefing delivered to Defense Department representatives in March by a former consultant for the UFO program mentioned retrievals from "off-world vehicles not made on this earth," the Times reported. Despite this claim, any evidence of alleged extraterrestrial technology has yet to be produced, according to the Times.

Related: Flying saucers to mind control: 22 declassified military & CIA secrets

UFOs, also sometimes called unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), are objects that can't be easily explained. The primary goal of military agencies investigating UFOs is not to find intelligent aliens, but to determine whether or not these mysterious objects pose a threat to national security. 

Pioneering programs such as the Air Force's Project Blue Book and the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) have focused on UFO appearances in the U.S. from the 1950s into the 1980s, while the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) formed in 2007 and allegedly ceased operations in 2012 when its budget was withdrawn, Live Science previously reported

But the Pentagon's search for UFOs didn't end in 2012, after all. Representatives with the Department of Defense recently confirmed that UFO-hunting was still active in 2017 and continues to this day under UAPTF, according to the Times. 

The U.S. Senate intelligence committee addressed the activities of UAPTF in June, in their Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021; this brought the shadowy UFO-investigating agency into public view, the Times says. The committee's bill seeks to regulate the tracking, organization and accessibility of UFO-related information gathered by the task force. This would include the release of a public report "submitted in unclassified form" within 180 days of the  bill's enactment, Live Science reported

"The committee understands that the relevant intelligence may be sensitive; nevertheless, the committee finds that the information sharing and coordination across the intelligence community has been inconsistent," committee members wrote in the bill. 

Originally published on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.  Her book "Rise of the Zombie Bugs: The Surprising Science of Parasitic Mind Control" will be published in spring 2025 by Johns Hopkins University Press.