The Department of Defense funded research on wormholes, invisibility cloaking, and “the manipulation of extra dimensions” under its shadowy Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, first described in 2017 by the New York Times and the Washington Post.
On Wednesday, the Defense Intelligence Agency released a list of 38 research titles pursued by the program in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy.
The list provides one of the best looks at the Pentagon’s covert UFO operation or study of “anomalous aerospace threats.” According to Aftergood’s FOIA request, the document marked “For Official Use Only” was sent to Congress on January 2018.
One such research topic, “Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy,” was led by Eric W. Davis of EarthTech International Inc, which describes itself as a facility “exploring the forefront reaches of science and engineering,” with an interest in theories of spacetime, studies of the quantum vacuum, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Another project called “Invisibility Cloaking” was helmed by German scientist Ulf Leonhardt, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Leonhardt’s research pertains to theoretical quantum optics, and in 2006 his work on theoretically creating “an invisible ‘hole’ in space, inside which objects can be hidden” was cited by Nature.
Yet another title, “Warp Drive, Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions,” was attributed to theoretical physicist Richard Obousy, director of the nonprofit Icarus Interstellar, which claims to be “researching technologies that will enable breakthroughs in interstellar travel.” Obousy was credited by Gizmodo in 2009 for creating “a scientifically accurate warpship design” that could hypothetically be propelled through space by manipulating dark energy.
“The list of research papers tells us something more than previous reporting did about this odd program,” Aftergood told Motherboard in an email. “Now we have a better idea of exactly what the Defense Intelligence Agency was up to, and what it produced.”
Other items are tantalizingly vague since we only have one-line descriptions of their scope. One that states “Metallic Glasses” could refer to an experimental type of flexible metallic alloy, while the topic “Biomaterials” could mirror NASA-funded research into biotechnology in low-gravity environments.
The Pentagon document however, while full of speculative ideas that seem better suited for science fiction, suggests the program was more than just chasing UFOs.
The Department of Defense had not publicly acknowledged the program’s existence until it was revealed by media reports. It was was “largely funded at the request of Harry Reid,” then Senate majority leader, to the tune of $22 million between 2007 and 2012.
We don't know how the program selected which projects to fund.
“I think anyone who looks at these titles will scratch their heads and wonder what on earth the Defense Intelligence Agency was thinking,” Aftergood said. “These are the kinds of topics you pursue when you have more money than you know what to do with.”
According to the New York Times, much of its budget went to the Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace, a company belonging to Reid’s longtime friend and UFO hunter, Robert Bigelow—also a protagonist of the documentary Hunt for the Skinwalker about the billionaire entrepreneur’s famed extraterrestrial hotbed, Skinwalker Ranch.
The first hints about the program’s existence can be credited to Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who managed the operation for seven years. When Elizondo resigned, he requested that footage of UFO encounters with fighter jets be made public—videos that were subsequently published by the New York Times and the Washington Post. At the time, Reid sought to tighten security around the program’s discoveries.
The agency claims the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program shut down due to a lack of funding, though Elizondo said it continued to investigate UFO sightings.
In a 2009 Pentagon briefing summary, the program’s then-director stated that “what was considered science fiction is now science fact.”
“I loved science fiction when I was younger,” Aftergood said. “Today I love good government. So I was not especially amused.”