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The RAF has tried to shoot down UFOs under instructions by the Ministry of Defence, a former employee has revealed.
Pilots have took aim at Unidentified Flying Objects several times but failed to bring them down, Nick Pope claimed.
Mr Pope, who worked on the MoD's UFO section for three years, said the 'shoot down' directive had been in place since the 1980s.
'We know of cases where the order has been given to shoot down — with little effect to the UFO,' Mr Pope said.
Firing at UFOs was 'not automatic but happens when something in our airspace is deemed to be a threat' he said.
'In the case of UFOs, whether the object is causing a threat is very much a (pilot’s) judgment call,' he told the paper.
Mr Pope, a 43-year-old Londoner, said the rules of engagement were drawn up after dozens of encounters with unidentified craft.
He said: 'There was a faction in the MoD who said "We want to shoot down a UFO and that will resolve the issue one way or another".'
Mr Pope, who worked as a civil servant at the MoD for 21 years, claimed that witnesses had given statements about dozens of near-misses between UFOs and planes, RAF jets and police helicopters.
But details of such incidents would never be released, he said.
'The public won’t know unless it comes down in a heavily-populated area,' he said.
'I do believe we will bring one down. We’re developing increasingly sophisticated weapons.'
Mr Pope said the government has no way of knowing if the UFOs pose a threat because the cases are never fully investigated.
'They will try to play it down by talking about flying saucers and little green men. But there are MPs and ministers and a faction of the MoD who do believe in UFOs,' he added.
The MoD has refused to comment on Mr Pope's claims or the existence of any UFO-related directives.
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