The Defense Department investigated service members reported sightings of UFOs decades after Project Blue Book once run at Wright-Patterson ended, the department has confirmed.
The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program at the Pentagon concluded around 2012, according to Defense Department spokesman Tom Crosson.
“It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the (Department of Defense) to make a change,” Crosson said in an email to this news outlet.
The New York Times recently reported on the existence of the program between 2007 to 2012, and added the work may be ongoing. The Pentagon had budgeted $22 million for the effort, the newspaper reported.
A Navy fighter pilot reported seeing an unidentified object over the Pacific Ocean in 2004. Recent reports showed a video of the encounter captured by a camera on an F/A-18 Super Hornet.
In the 1960s, Project Blue Book was an Air Force program that investigated worldwide reports of unidentified flying objects. The investigations, which concluded in 1969, found no threats to national security or evidence of extraterrestrial vehicles, the Air Force has said.
Project Blue Book investigated 12,618 UFO reports, and 701 of those remain unidentified, according to the Air Force. Project Sign and Project Grudge preceded Blue Book in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
“The Air Force was concerned back in the 1940s that some of the UFO sightings might be related to the Soviet Union,” Robert Young, a National Air and Space Intelligence Center historian at Wright-Patterson, said in a 2013 interview with the Dayton Daily News. The concern was the Cold War adversary might have “something that we didn’t have. That’s really what drove a lot of it.”
A declassified CIA report concluded more than half the sightings in the 1950s and 1960s were of the high-flying U-2 and SR-71 spy planes.
Wright-Patterson has remained in UFO lore for decades. After the reported crash of what some believed was a flying saucer near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, the base has long been the subject of rumors of hidden alien spacecraft or aliens themselves.
More than three decades ago, the Air Force issued an official denial that Wright-Patterson housed alien space technology and the bodies of beings from another planet.
“Periodically, it is erroneously stated that the remains of extraterrestrial visitors are or have been stored at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” the January 1985 statement said. “There are not now, nor have there ever been, any extraterrestrial visitors or equipment on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”