For the first time, the Pentagon has admitted that it ran a program that investigated sightings of UFOs, according to a New York Times report.

From 2007 to 2012 the $22 million Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program investigated UFO reports and run under military intelligence official Luis Elizondo inside the Pentagon.

Officials said program was shut down five years ago.

“It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change,” a Pentagon spokesperson told the Times.

However, supporters say the program still exists, although the Defense Department stopped funding it. Since 2012, the program has continued to investigate reports and has also carried out other Pentagon duties, the report said.

Harry Reid’s Connection To UFO Pentagon Program

The secret program was primarily funded at the request of former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the report said. The Democrat, who retired last December, was reportedly a space fan. Most of the funds went to an aerospace research company run by billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, a friend of Reid’s.

UFO Sightings Reports: Documents, Videos

The Pentagon UFO program teamed up with Bigelow’s company to produce documents that detailed sightings of aircrafts that appeared to move at high speeds with no visible signs of propulsion, as well as other objects that hovered in the skies. The program also looked into videos of encounters with unknown objects and U.S. military aircrafts. One of the videos showed an oval object about the size of commercial airplane, according to the Times. The aircraft was chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets off the coast of San Diego in 2004.

The program and company also stored metal alloys and other materials that were believed to have been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who reported going through physical effects from encounters with objects. Experts also spoke to military service members who said they had seen strange flying objects.

The Pentagon program gathered video and audio recordings of reported incidents involving UFOs. Some footage was collected from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and "showed the aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves,” according to the Times. In the video, the pilots were confused about what they were looking at, while one pilot yelled: “There’s a whole fleet of them.”

Republican Senator Said He Saw 'Strange Aircraft'

Sightings of unidentified objects were not often reported to higher military officials by service members because they were afraid they would be laughed at or stigmatized, Reid said.

Reid got support for the UFO Pentagon program from other Senators, Ted Stevens who was a Republican that represented Alaska and Daniel K. Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat. Stevens and Inouye have both passed away.

During a meeting, Stevens told Reid about an experience he had with an unidentified object. The report said:

The meeting with Mr. Stevens and Mr. Inouye, Mr. Reid said, “was one of the easiest meetings I ever had.”

He added, “Ted Stevens said, ‘I’ve been waiting to do this since I was in the Air Force.’ (The Alaska senator had been a pilot in the Army’s air force, flying transport missions over China during World War II.)

During the meeting, Mr. Reid said, Mr. Stevens recounted being tailed by a strange aircraft with no known origin, which he said had followed his plane for miles.

Reid told the Times he had no regrets in starting the program, adding that he was proud of it. 

[Watch] Released Videos Show Unidentified Flying Objects

Elizondo left his position at the Pentagon and joined To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, a consortium of scientists, aerospace engineers and creatives. The organization released U.S. military videos of unidentified aerial phenomenon on Saturday. The footage can be viewed on the group’s website or YouTube channel.

In this video, an unidentified object is seen rotating in the sky. The location and date of the incident were not not revealed.

This is another video captured by a US navy F/A-18 Super Hornet off the coast of San Diego in 2004: