In December 2017 The New York Times revealed the existence of a shadowy US Department of Defense program known as AATIP – Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.

The program had been set up at the instigation of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and much of the work had been done in the private sector by Bigelow Aerospace (the AATIP contract was issued by the Defense Intelligence Agency and was known as AAWSAP – Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program). The program’s point man was a career intelligence officer, Luis Elizondo.

Officially, the program’s purpose was “to investigate foreign advanced aerospace weapons system applications with future technology projections over the next 40 years, and to create a center of expertise on advanced aerospace technologies”. The reality was that this included what the DOD euphemistically referred to as the study of “anomalous events (such as sightings of aerodynamic vehicles engaged in extreme maneuvers, with unique phenomenology, reported by U.S. Navy pilots or other credible sources).”

This latter role is best illustrated by the release of 3 videos of US Navy jets chasing UFOs, the best-known encounter having taken place in 2004, involving aircraft from the USS Nimitz. The US Navy and the DOD confirmed that these sightings remain “unidentified” and that the mystery objects are officially designated as UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) – a term the US authorities confirmed “was borrowed from the United Kingdom” [i.e. from Nick Pope’s MoD work on UFOs in the Nineties, where “UFO” was replaced with “UAP”, in order to reframe the debate about the ‘core phenomenon’ – i.e. those sightings not attributable to misidentifications].

As a former defense official who now works as a broadcaster and journalist, Nick Pope was the first person to obtain (from DIA’s Office of Corporate Communications) and publish the DIA’s January 9 2018 letter to Congress about AATIP. In their letter the DIA stated that “The purpose of AATIP was to investigate foreign advanced aerospace weapon threats from the present out to the next 40 years”. The implication of such a statement is that the program was focused on next-generation Russian and Chinese aircraft, missiles and drones. However, the letter’s attachment listed 38 technical reports produced under the AATIP contract – none of which relate to assessments of Russian or Chinese aerospace technology. There are papers on anti-gravity, invisibility cloaking, stargates, warp drive and wormholes, and the clear focus is on the theoretical physics of interstellar travel. There’s even a paper on the Drake Equation, the sole purpose of which is to estimate the number of communicable civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy!

Nick Pope wasn’t involved in AATIP, which was exclusively a US program, but in view of the British influence and because he ran a similar program in the UK, he’s been one of the main media commentators on the AATIP story. As one of the few former defense officials verifiably involved in a government UFO research and investigation program, Nick has been able to contextualize AATIP for the media, in terms of explaining how and why governments investigate UFOs, and what they’ve concluded.