One of the United Kingdom's most prominent UFO experts believes aliens could have already made first contact – in an infamous 2004 video that has been under investigation ever since.
Nick Pope, who spent 21 years working at the Ministry of Defence and three running its UFO desk, believes the notorious run-in with a UFO caught on camera by fliers from the USS Nimitz could represent a major milestone in mankind's history.
Two ex-Navy pilots have previously spoken out their encounters with the "unsettling" alien craft.
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Commander of F/A-18 Squadron Lieutenant Alex Dietrich and former Navy pilot Dave Fravor were training with a strike group off the coast of San Diego in November 2004 when they picked up a strange Tic-Tac like object on their infra-red cameras.
Pope told the Daily Star: "To have the Pentagon say, 'these are authentic US Navy films' and they are on their own website by the way along with a note saying that these sightings are still unexplained.
"That takes us into new and frankly quite disturbing territory because these Top Guns don't spook easily.
"They are clearly encountering something outside of their knowledge base and their experience.:"
And Nick believes the options for what the notorious "Tic-Tac" was are fairly limited.
He went on: "Frankly there is only a couple of possibilities with this sort of thing.
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"Either an adversary has main some sort of quantum leap breakthrough or this really could be some sort of first contact which is exactly how I imagined first contact would be – a sort of war of nerves, pushing at the boundaries, just testing, seeing how good our radar systems are.
"Are they going to pick us up, are they going to scramble jets, what are they going to do?"
And if the truth isn't extraterrestrial, Pope fears that reality might actually be worse for our species.
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"Frankly, I'd rather this was extraterrestrial because if it is an adversary like China or Russia and they've got stuff that can go this we're in big trouble.
"Usually with technological advances they come in steps and here it;s like there are 10 steps missing. That just doesn't normally happen.
"It's as if you went from the Wright Brothers to a stealth fighter with nothing in between.''
Nick Pope appears in a new National Geographic series UFOs: Investigating The Unknown, which starts on Tuesday (May 2) and explores the on-going US probe including eyewitness accounts and declassified footage of sightings.
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