WATCH: US government releases eerie footage of Navy pilots spotting UFO

Previously classified footage has recently emerged showing U.S. fighter jet pilots sighting an unidentified flying object (UFO) alongside news of the Pentagon's $22 million program dedicated to investigating aerial phenomena.

The eerie footage in question was released by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and shows Navy pilots appearing to react with astonishment as they track a mysterious white flying object hovering off the coast of San Diego in 2004, The New York Times reported Saturday.

RELATED: A look at military aircraft

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23 examples of amazing camouflage on military planes
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23 examples of amazing camouflage on military planes

A Russian SU-27 Flanker aircraft banks away with an RAF Typhoon in the background. RAF Typhoons were scrambled on June 14, 2014, to intercept multiple Russian aircraft as part of NATO's ongoing mission to police Baltic airspace.

Photo courtesy: RAF/Ministry of Defense/Crown Copyright

A Russian Su-35 Super Flanker soars through the clouds.

Photo courtesy: Aleksander Markin/www.flickr.com

Two RF-4Es of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force patrol above Japan.

Photo courtesy: Japan Air Self-Defense Force/Wikimedia

Israeli F-16s fly low and fast inside the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert in Israel.

Photo courtesy: Israeli Defense Force

An Israeli air force F-15I maneuvers away after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Nevada's test and training ranges.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald

A Dutch F-16 takes off.

Photo courtesy: Reuters

Two Israeli air force F-15s fly in Nevada's Red Flag aerial-training operation in 2004.

Photo courtesy: TSGT KEVIN J. GRUENWALD, USAF via Commons

An Iranian Su-24 waits to take off from Mehrabad International Airport for a training flight.

Photo courtesy: Shahram Sharifi

A Russian Su-30 glides through the air during a test flight.

Photo courtesy: Aleksander Markin

Russia's new T-50 prototype tests its engines in flight.

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

An Indian air force SU-30K Flanker lands following a simulated combat mission with US Air Force F-15 Eagles deployed from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown

An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies with naval camouflage.

Photo courtesy: Todd Miller

An F/A-18, belonging to the VFA-122 "Flying Eagles" based out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, and flown by the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), blends seamlessly into the desert background.

Photo courtesy: Todd Miller

A US Navy F/A-18C Hornets of the Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-125 "Rough Raiders" flies in formation flight out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, with an unusual tiger-stripe camouflage.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation

An attack squadron VA-72 Blue Hawks Vought A-7E Corsair II aircraft of the commander, Carrier Air Wing, flies homeward after a deployment in the Persian Gulf area during Operation Desert Storm.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

A formation of F-4 Phantom II fighter aircraft display their unique camos in formation during a heritage-flight demonstration.

Photo courtesy: USAF - MSgt Michael Ammons

OV-10s from the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron show off their woodland camouflage at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

Photo courtesy: USAF Official Photo

A flight of Aggressor F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons with various camouflage schemes fly in formation over the Nevada Test and Training Range on June 5, 2008.

Photo courtesy: USAF

A Douglas A-1E Skyraider warbird, painted as "AF 132-683" of the South Vietnamese air force, in 2008.

Photo courtesy: Fly-by-Owen via Wikimedia Commons

US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft from Marine Attack Squadron 513 at Yuma Marine Corps air base, in Arizona, fly in formation during Operation Desert Shield.

Photo courtesy: SSgt Scott Stewart, USAF

A B-52 Stratofortress from the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron leads a formation of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-2s from the 6th Squadron, US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 18th Aggressor Squadron, and a US Navy EA-6B Prowler from the Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136 over Guam on February 10, 2009.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald

An F-15C-27-MC Eagle with naval camouflage from the 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, showing aggressor paint scheme, disconnects from a KC-10 Extender after being refueled during a Red Flag-Alaska exercise on April 22 and is ready to reengage friendly forces.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jonathan Snyder

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"This is a f–king drone, bro," one of the pilots is heard muttering in the Navy F/A-18F fighter jet.

"There’s a whole fleet of them," another person says before shouting, "It’s rotating!"

The video was studied by the Pentagon's multimillion-dollar program tasked with investigating reports from military and commercial pilots of UFOs -- a program which the Defense Department initially acknowledged for the first time this month.

SEE ALSO: Ex-Navy pilot describes strange encounter with aircraft with 'no plumes, wings, or rotors'

According to the Times, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was launched roughly a decade ago at the urging of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The program had reportedly run in secrecy with a well-hidden $22 million budget for several years by military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, deep within the Pentagon's maze on the fifth floor of the C Ring and far from the building's busiest corridors.

Check out these alien-looking landscapes found on Earth:

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Alien-looking, otherwordly landscapes found on Earth
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Alien-looking, otherwordly landscapes found on Earth
Dragon blood trees in rocky landscape, Homhil Protected Area, Socotra, Yemen
Mysterious moving rocks at a playa in Death Valley national Park called The Race Track
Turkey, Central Anatolia, Cappadocia, Unesco World Heritage Site, Uchisar village, the camel driver
Fire crater, gas crater, Door to Hell Darvaza crater, Derweze or Darvaza, Karakum Desert, Dasoguz Province, Turkmenistan
Kristal Icecave in Breiðamerkurljökul glacier in Iceland
The Haleakala silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum) is a rare plant found only the island of Maui on the dormant Haleakala volcano.Silverswords live between 3 and 90 years or more. They flower once, sending up a spectacular flowering stalk, and then die soon afterward, scattering drying seeds to the wind. Flowering events can differ dramatically from one flowering season to the next. The reasons for that are not understood.
Giant's Causeway on a cloudy day - Northern Ireland
Take in Athabasca Glacier, Jasper, Alberta, Canada
United States, Oregon, Dayville
Moeraki rocks found on the east coast of new zealand
High Angle View Of Grand Prismatic Spring In Yellowstone National Park
Frozen methane bubbles at Abraham lake at sunrise with beautiful sky.
A sand dune glows red at last light in this landscape image of the Namib Desert.
Salar de Uyuni hexagons at sunset
Colorful mountain in Danxia landform in Zhangye, Gansu of China.
The enchanting pools of Pamukkale in Turkey. Pamukkale contains hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Deep underground cave exploration of Karst cave 'Krizna jama', Slovenia. Roughly 8-9 km long, from 30 to 125 m deep, lots of chambers, siphons, corridors, small islands and roughly 40 lakes, stalactites, stalagmites and other specifical Karst rock formations.
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Dallol is volcano, Danakil desert, Ethiopia.
Michigan, United States of America
Snow covered wave taken during cold in Coyote Buttes North.
Egypt, Baharija, White desert
Cave halong bay
The blue ice cave at lake Baikal
This image was taken in the Fall of 2008 at Tufa State Park, Mono County, Mono Lake, California. This image is very rare as the lake water level is much higher now. I shot this at the cusp of dawn and no filters were used.
Zabriskie Point with Panamint Range in distance, Mojave Desert. Mutant nature Zabriskie Point is a part of Amargosa Range located east of Death Valley in Death Valley National Park in California, United States noted for its erosional landscape. It is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago long before Death Valley came into existence.
Castildetierra
Baobab trees (Adansonia Grandidieri) reflecting in the water under the milky Way, Morondava, Toliara province, Madagascar.
(GERMANY OUT) Western Australia - Nambung National Park - limestone formations, called Pinnacles, at dusk (Photo by Mayall/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Fingal's Cave on the Scottish Inner Hebrides island of Staffa.
Rocky cliffs reflected in the calm waters of Horseshoe Lake, Jasper National park, Alberta, Canada.
Abstract nature of Lower Antelope Canyon. The canyon is part of a series of slot canyons on Navajo land in Arizona, USA.
Sweden, Halsingland, Voxnan River at sunrise, winter
Huang Shan, Anhui Province, China
Nieve penitente is a spike or pillar of compacted snow or ice caused by differential melting and evaporation.
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