Britain has a stockpile of aircraft, drones and weapons that could be used to fight aliens in the event of an invasion from space, according to the government's former UFO adviser.
The Taranis could be used to fight aliens
In an interview with MSN, Nick Pope, who worked for the Ministry of Defence for 21 years, said that while Britain doesn't have a war plan, it certainly had sophisticated enough weaponry to defend itself.
Mr Pope, whose job it was to advise on the threat posed by other life forms, said that in the event of an attack he expected that we would "quickly adapt our plans for other more current war scenarios."
At present, he said, there was no special organisation like Torchwood, the alien-hunting team from the BBC science fiction series of the same name, but he said he was sure that in the event of attack an operation could be set up quickly and efficiently. World nations would probably pool their technology together like in films such as Independence Day.
The believers only have to be right once.
Mr Pope said: "We do have several prototype aircraft and drones and other weapons you won't see on the news for another 10-15 years so if we did face a threat from the unknown then even if there is no Torchwood around now, there would be something like it by then and they certainly would have some great kit to help in the fight."
He said: "Look at the Taranis, which is a prototype made by BAE Systems. It looks for all the world like a spaceship in the hanger."
So are aliens a threat?
The official government position is that UFOs offer "no significant defence threat".
However, Mr Pope said what that really means is that "we don't know".
"My colleagues and I said, whatever our official position - the one we gave to the public, media or parliament, - privately, where five per cent of UFO sightings remained unexplained, at the very least there has to be a potential threat."
How would we fight?
Was the Taranis modelled on this UFO spotted at Rendlesham Forest in 1980?
"One possibility would be trying to unite all the nations of the world. For those who think that far-fetched, Ronald Reagan once hinted at it in a speech to the UN. He said 'I occasionally think how quickly we would set aside our difference if we faced some alien threat from the other side.'"
So why is the government looking at UFO sightings?
"Between 1991 and 1994, my job at the MoD was to investigate the 200-300 reported sightings of UFOs in the UK each year to see if there was evidence of a potential threat or something of general defence interest.
"One of the things that was interesting was that when people reported seeing UFOs these things were capable of extraordinary manoeuvres and speeds. They were much faster than our military jets so we wanted to find out about the technology and if we could find it useful.
"Defence scientists were very interested in the fact they might have some kind of exotic propulsion system."
So do aliens really exist?
"I am absolutely convinced that elsewhere in the universe there must be other life and I am also convinced that some of that is going to be intelligent. I am open-minded about the possibility that some of that life is visiting us down here but just as our space programme is reaching out to find out what is out there, it seems other life forms could be motivated by the same thing."
What do aliens look like?
"They come in all shapes and sizes according to the people who have seen these things. There is a vast variety of life."
Aliens come in all shapes and sizes
"One of the things being discussed at the Royal Society is that we could be dealing with artificial life - a post-biological universe of cyborgs and robots.
"I suspect there are thousands and millions of civilisations out there.
"We all hope it's just going to be ET-style fluffy aliens as opposed to a terrifying alien invasion."
What one event has convinced you of the existence of alien life?
"It's a case in the UK at Rendlesham Forest, in 1980, in Suffolk between two military bases. It was not a sighting of a UFO in the sky but a UFO that actually landed. Some of the witnesses described a smallish craft.
"It came on a second night and when military personnel examined the landing site they found indentations in the ground and defence intelligence staff assessed the radiation levels with a Geiger counter and found radiation levels at eight times normal.
"We told parliament there was 'no defence significance' but did so with tongue firmly in cheek because you cannot have a UFO land between two defence bases without it being of enormous defence significance."
What would you say to sceptics?
"The believers only have to be right once."
Mr Pope was involved in the British government's programme to declassify and release the MoD's UFO files to the National Archives. He left the MoD in 2006 and now lives in California. He lectures around the world and works with television and film companies to develop new ideas.
He carried out the interview ahead of a live webTV show to discuss alien life forms as part of a promotion for the computer game XCOM: Enemy Unknown. For more information watch the webTV show with Nick Pope.