In 2007, the US Department of Defense launched the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program to collect sightings of ‘anomalous aerospace threats’ – in demilitarised English, Unidentified Flying Objects. The programme had cost the Pentagon $100 million by the time they cut the funding in 2012. Last year, the New York Times and Washington Post got hold of some AATIP files, but it was disappointing to hear how conventional they sounded; UFOs haven’t changed much since the 1960s, defying physics and outrunning fighter jets.
When the Ministry of Defence sold its armed forces housing in 1996, it already looked a bad deal: 57,000 houses were sold for £30,000 each, well under half the average house price at the time. Overnight, the sale created Britain’s biggest private landlord and gave it a blue chip tenant – the MoD. Yet the company that won the contract, Annington, had just been set up and had no experience of management on such a scale.