In its statement, the Pentagon acknowledged the fact that these clips had been leaked into the public domain years ago.
A Department of Defense spokesperson said they were 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.”
The 2004 video was brought to light in a New York Times story published Dec. 16, 2017, which included interviews with the two pilots who observed the encounter.
Following the story’s publication, the Pentagon acknowledged the existence of its Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which was founded in 2007 and disbanded in 2012. The purpose of the program, which received $22 million in funding, was to study reports of unidentified flying objects.
In May 2019, the New York Times published another story featuring two new videos from January 2015 of Navy pilots encountering similar unidentified objects during flights. The story included interviews with a number of pilots who described seeing extraordinarily strange objects racing through the air.
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