Image: Luis Elizondo at the SCU AAPC conference March 15, 2019.
On Dec. 2017, the New York Times published a story about a secretive UFO program ran out of the Pentagon. The project the NYT referred to was the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). However, since the NYT posted their article, more information has come to light, and it turns out the program had a different name in 2007 when it began.
There has been a lot of confusion around this issue, myself included. Other researchers had found that the project’s first name was the Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Application Program (AAWSAP). So why did the NYT refer to it as AATIP?
Using information from my interviews with former AATIP chief Elizondo, and information found online in other interviews, I put together what I could on how AAWSAP became AATIP. I then interviewed Elizondo to fill in gaps and verify what I thought I knew was accurate and correct what I had wrong. I was then able to put together the information in this post that Elizondo has verified as correct.
Although others involved with these programs have commented on the names, Elizondo is the only one who was an administrator, and he is the highest authority I have interviewed on this topic.
AAWSAP began in 2007 under the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), before Elizondo was involved. At this time, AAWSAP had staff at DIA to set up the program, this included determining the scope of the program and creating a solicitation for a contractor to work on the program. In 2008, AAWSAP sent out their request, and Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) was the only company to bid. The search for a contractor was all done by the DIA using their standard contract solicitation procedures. The project's primary sponsor, Senator Harry Reid, had no involvement in this. There were no guarantees Bigelow would win the contract if there were other bids.
AAWSAP's scope was to research many aspects of the paranormal, including occurrences at the so-called Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. This made people inside of the government uncomfortable, especially Christians who felt some of these potentially paranormal occurrences were demonic.
Because the scope of AAWSAP was not palatable to so many inside the DIA, they created AATIP as a subgroup within AAWSAP that focused strictly on military UFO cases.
Elizondo joined AAWSAP in 2008 to work on AATIP. By 2009, because of the ongoing scrutiny of AAWSAP, AATIP became more of a focus and AAWSAP was downplayed. In June 2009, Reid wrote his letter to get a Special Access Program (SAP) status and referred to the project as AATIP. Because Reid used the name AATIP, internally, AATIP was adopted as the name for the program.
This is when AAWSAP essentially ended, and AATIP was the new name and scope of the program. The difference between the two was that AAWSAP was a paranormal research project, AATIP is UAP focused.
At this time, work on the DIRDs originally requested under AAWSAP was ongoing and still under contract for AAWSAP. The contractors completed the DIRDs for AAWSAP in 2010.
Also in 2010, Elizondo took over AATIP and moved it from the DIA to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), where he worked. According to the DIA, AATIP ended in 2012, but it was only the original funding allotment that ended, the project continued.
AATIP continues to this day, but under a different name. Elizondo says he does not know the new name. The name changed for a similar reason it changed from AAWSAP to AATIP. Now that AATIP is public, the term AATIP is being scrutinized, so having a new name allows for some cover. These name changes are similar to why the term UAV or AAV are used instead of UFO. The term UFO has too much baggage and too many connotations.