The Pentagon is forming a new task force to investigate UFO sightings over US military bases, according to defense officials.
Two defense officials told CNN the task force will hunt and investigate UFOs that have been seen by military aircraft and will be headed up by Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist.
The task force will be officially announced over the next few days, they added.
This comes just weeks after it emerged the Pentagon’s once secret UFO hunting department continued to operate over the past decade despite claims it was disbanded and as US senators demand more transparency from the Pentagon over mysterious encounters in the skies.
The Pentagon (pictured) is forming a new task force to investigate UFO sightings over US military bases, according to defense officials
Details of the new task force such as its name and whether its investigations will be made public are not yet clear.
It is also not clear whether the new task force will replace the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force which the New York Times revealed last month was still in operation.
A secret multi-million dollar program named the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program first began in 2007 under the Defense Intelligence Agency before moving to the Office of Naval Intelligence.
In 2017, the Pentagon acknowledged funding the program to investigate UFO sightings but defense chiefs claimed it ended in 2012 citing ‘other, higher priority issues that merited funding’.
In July, the Times reported that people who worked with the UFO program through to 2017 and beyond confirmed it continued to exist – but under a different name and office.
Members of the unit insisted some of the objects discovered were items humans ‘couldn’t make ourselves’ and ‘vehicles not made on this earth’.
In April, the Pentagon released footage from three sightings of unidentified objects (pictured)
The grainy black and white footage had previously been leaked and the Navy acknowledged they were genuine videos
Donald Trump expressed skepticism over the validity of the footage calling it ‘one hell of a video’ and saying ‘I just wonder if it’s real’
In June, US senators demanded to see the Pentagon’s UFO files as they pushed for influence over the secretive Navy program.
The Senate Intelligence Committee wanted defense chiefs to publish a report on the Pentagon’s UFO program and any phenomena it observes.
The committee said it ‘supports the efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force’ – appearing to also confirm such a program still existed – but said the public should be better informed of its activities.
The Pentagon’s UFO department could now be forced to give reports to the public every six months.
The push for transparency from the Senate came after the Pentagon released three videos showing US Navy pilots encountering UFOs flying over military bases back in April.
The grainy black and white footage had previously been leaked and the Navy acknowledged they were genuine videos.
One of the videos was shot in November 2004 and the other two in January 2015.
In one, a weapons sensor operator appears to lose lock on a rapidly moving object which seconds later suddenly accelerates away to the left and out of view.
The new UFO task force will be headed up by Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist (pictured), according to officials
In another video which is tracking an object above the clouds, one pilot wonders if it is a drone.
The Department of Defense said it was ‘releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.’
Donald Trump expressed skepticism over the validity of the footage calling it ‘one hell of a video’ and saying ‘I just wonder if it’s real’.
‘Hazard reports’ about the unexplained encounters were then released the following month.
‘The unknown aircraft appeared to be small in size, approximately the size of a suitcase, and silver in color,’ one report about an incident in 2014 read.
The need to investigate the existence of UFOs stems less out of concern over extraterrestrials, however, and more from the threat posed by real-world US adversaries such as China.
The Pentagon admitted in June that a nuclear detonation in space by Russia or China was among the possible threats to US interests.
The US is particularly worried about China’s espionage capabilities, including use of drones and other aerial technology.
Earlier in July, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the acting chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told CBS that he was concerned about unidentified aircraft flying over US military bases.
He claimed that China or Russia may have made ‘some technological leap’ that ‘allows them to conduct this sort of activity’.
‘Maybe there is a completely, sort of, boring explanation for it. But we need to find out,’ he added.