Two Navy airmen flying over the Pacific Ocean on a routine training mission claim they encountered mysterious objects that accelerated like nothing they had ever seen before.
Just before intelligence officer Luis Elizondo left his job as the US Defence Department two months ago, he released three of the most unusual videos in the Pentagon's secret vault. The videos including raw footage from encounters between fighter jets and "anomalous aerial vehicles" - military jargon for UFOs.
Back in 2004, Navy Cmdr David Fravor and Navy Lt. Cmdr Jim Slaight were flying about 100 miles (160km) off the coast of San Diego in each of their F/A-18F Super Hornets carrying two CATM-9s, which are dummy missiles that could not be fired, the New York Times reported.
According to Fravor, the operations officer aboard Navy cruiser USS Princeton had been communicating with the pair during their mission and said, "Well, we've got a real-world vector for you."
The operator said for the past two weeks the Navy cruiser had been tracking mysterious aircraft, according to the Daily Mail.
The objects would first appear at 80,000 feet (24,000m) and then speed towards the sea before stopping at 20,000 feet (6000m) and hovering.
They then either shot back up into the sky or dropped off the radar.
Fravor and Slaight were instructed to investigate the objects by the radio operator on the Navy cruiser.
The two pilots followed their instructions and as they closed in, they were alerted by the operator that they could not tell which were the objects and which were the fighter jets.
At first, Fravor nor Slaight could see anything and nothing was on their radars.
But then Fravor looked down to the sea and noticed that the waves were breaking over something below the surface, causing the sea to churn.
Hovering about 50 feet (15m) above the churn was an aircraft of some sort that was whitish, 40 feet long and oval in shape, Fravor recounted.
He described to the Times that it was jumping erratically but not moving in any specific direction.
Fravor began a circular descent in an effort to get a closer look, but the object began ascending toward him as if it were trying to meet him halfway, he explained.
He then abandoned his slow circular descent and decided to fly straight towards the object.
But then he said it quickly flew away.
"It accelerated like nothing I've ever seen," he told the Times before adding that he was "pretty weirded out".
Fravor and Slaight then spoke with operations officer on their Navy cruiser and were told to fly to a rendezvous point about 60 miles (18km) away, which is called the cap point in aviation parlance.
As they were flying, the Princeton radioed again saying that radar had picked up the strange aircraft.
"Sir, you won't believe it," the radio operator said, "but that thing is at your cap point."
"We were at least 40 miles away, and in less than a minute this thing was already at our cap point," Fravor said.
Once they arrived, the object had disappeared and the two fighter jets returned to the Nimitz.
Fravor said that he was made fun of after people aboard the ship had learned of his encounter.
When asked by another pilot of the situation, Fravor said: "I have no idea what I saw. It had no plumes, wings or rotors and outran our F-18s."
He added, "I want to fly one."
His superiors did not investigate further.
Fravor has since retired from the Navy after deploying to the Persian Gulf providing air support to ground troops during the Iraq war.
Fravor's account of what he claims happened in November 2004 has emerged after it was revealed the Pentagon set up a secret multi-million dollar programme to investigate UFO sightings.
The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ran from 2007 to 2012, with a $22 million annual budget, with the mission of looking into reports of military encounters with unidentified flying objects.
The Defense Department finally acknowledged the existence of its long-secret UFO investigation program on Saturday, when officials shifted attention and funding to other priorities.
Its initial funding came largely at the request of former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat long known for his enthusiasm for space phenomena, the newspaper said.
The program was created by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), with the support of the late Senators Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Republican Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
Their fears were that the unexplained phenomena could be advanced weaponry or technology from foreign states such as Russia or China which could threaten the US.
"Was this China or Russia trying to do something or has some propulsion system we are not familiar with?" a former staffer told Politico.
While former career intelligence officer Luis Elizondo, who ran the initiative, stressed he wanted to take the "voodoo" out of a "voodoo science", the program investigated some issues that sound like they're straight out of a science fiction movie.
They included "wormholes" and "warp drives" as well as interviewing pilots and military personnel who reported experiences with UFOs.
Elizondo said that many of the Navy pilots described aircraft moving and acting in a way that seemed to be beyond human beings' current capabilities.
"We had never seen anything like it," he said.
The former staffer said that Reid believed there could be a valid national security issue and so agreed to fund the programme.
But after a few years, and very little to show for it, Reid decided it wasn't worth continuing.
"After a while the consensus was we really couldn't find anything of substance," he recalled. "They produced reams of paperwork. After all of that there was really nothing there that we could find. It all pretty much dissolved from that reason alone - and the interest level was losing steam. We only did it a couple years."
"There was really nothing there that we could justify using taxpayer money," he added.
"We let it die a slow death. It was well spent money in the beginning."
According to the Pentagon, the programme "ended in the 2012 timeframe".
Yet according to its backers, the program remains in existence and officials continue to investigate UFO episodes brought to their attention by service members, the newspaper said.
The Pentagon openly acknowledged the fate of the program in response to a Reuters query.
"The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe," Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Ochoa said in an email.
"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," she said.
But the Pentagon was less clear about whether the UFO program continues to hover somewhere in the vast universe of the US defence establishment.
"The DoD takes seriously all threats and potential threats to our people, our assets, and our mission and takes action whenever credible information is developed," Ochoa said.
What is less in doubt is former senator Reid's enthusiasm for UFOs and his likely role in launching the Pentagon initiative to identify advanced aviation threats.
"If you've talked to Harry Reid for 60 seconds then it's the least surprising thing ever that he loves UFOs and got an earmark to study them," former Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said in a message on Twitter.
Or as Reid himself said in a tweet that linked to the Times' story: "The truth is out there. Seriously."
Elizondo has since joined former Blink 182 vocalist Tom DeLonge's company To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences - described as a "public benefit corporation" that has mobilised a team of the most experienced, connected and passionately curious minds from the US intelligence community, including the CIA, Department of Defense, who have been operating under the shadows of top-secrecy for decades."