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A former high-ranking Pentagon staffer says aliens are real, and he should know: he spent millions of dollars trying to find them.

Luis Elizondo is the former head of the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, a secret Pentagon office that was tasked with getting the low-down on UFOs (or Unidentified Flying Objects for the uninitiated). The program was given $22 million and operated from 2008 to 2012, during which time they investigated dozens of UFO sightings.

“My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone,” Elizondo said in an interview with CNN.

The program interviewed military and commercial pilots who reported seeing strange objects in the sky – objects without any visible means of propulsion and flew in erratic, impossible flight patterns. One such occurrence – captured on video and released in August – showed a white oval the size of a commercial plane “as it was chased by a pair of Navy fighter jets off of San Diego in 2004,” according to the New York Times.

“These aircraft — we’ll call them aircraft — are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the US inventory nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of,” Elizondo added.

He went on to say that many of the UFOs performed maneuvers that would normally turn a human body into a puddle of goo thanks to the enormous G-forces it would exert. “We have identified some very interesting, anomalous type of aircraft — we’ll call them aircraft: things that don’t have any obvious flight services, any obvious forms of propulsion, and maneuvering in ways that include extreme maneuverability beyond, I would submit, the healthy G-forces of a human or anything biological,” Elizondo said.

Once the program ended in 2012 and was dismantled by the Pentagon, employees were shuffled onto other projects. However, many of them still search for UFOs part-time.

Following the closure of the program, Elizondo left the government’s employ to work in the private sector. He now works for To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, a group founded by the former singer/guitarist to Blink 182, Tom DeLonge.

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