The Pentagon has finally confirmed suspicions that it is investigating the existence of UFOs, or "unidentified aerial phenomena".

The NY Post reports it received a statement from the US Department of Defence saying a secret government initiative, named the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Programme (AATIP), "did pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena".

According to the statement, despite shutting down the programme in 2012, the Pentagon is still investigating claimed sightings of alien spacecraft.

"The Department of Defence is always concerned about maintaining positive identification of all aircraft in our operating environment, as well as identifying any foreign capability that may be a threat to the homeland," spokesman Christopher Sherwood told the NY Post.

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"The department will continue to investigate, through normal procedures, reports of unidentified aircraft encountered by US military aviators in order to ensure defence of the homeland and protection against strategic surprise by our nation's adversaries."

Nick Pope, who secretly investigated UFOs for the British government during the 1990s, called the comments a "bombshell revelation".

"Previous official statements were ambiguous and left the door open to the possibility that AATIP was simply concerned with next-generation aviation threats from aircraft, missiles and drones — as sceptics claimed," Pope said.

"This new admission makes it clear that they really did study what the public would call 'UFOs'.

"It also shows the British influence because UAP was the term we used in the Ministry of Defence to get away from the pop culture baggage that came with the term UFO."

The existence of the AATIP was only revealed in 2017, five years after the programme was shut down. It was revealed along with a 33-second video showing an airborne object being chased by two navy jets off the coast of San Diego in 2004, one of the instances investigated by the US Department of Defence.