Spy balloons or UFOs?

Continental airspace has been awfully crowded

Published by Matthew Glover, Date: February 17, 2023
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Chinese spy balloon shot down on Feb. 4.

In the last 12 days, four objects have been shot down in North American airspace. Only one of them was a spy balloon.

The shootdowns after the spy balloon are the result of “heightened alert,” according to Gen. Glen VanHerch, head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Northern Command.

After the Chinese spy balloon, the U.S. adjusted its radar to easier track slower objects which has led to more blips and a better categorization of radar tracks.

The most recent object was shot down on Sunday by a U.S. Sidewinder heat-seeking missile over Lake Huron in Canada. The object was described as having an octagonal shape with strings attached.

The object flew at about 20,000 feet and may have had surveillance capabilities, Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier Gen. Patrick Ryder said. It first appeared over Montana on Feb. 11 and reappeared the next day before being shot down.

The Air Force F-16 jet that shot down the object missed its first attempt, and it was not clear where the missile landed. Each of those missiles costs more than $400,000, according to Fox News.

A previous object was shot down Feb. 11 in Canada’s Yukon territory, which borders Alaska. A Canadian official described this object as cylindrical.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau ordered it to be shot down as it violated Canadian airspace.

The object was shot down by a U.S. F-22 using an AIM 9X missile, Ryder said.

The previous object was shot down Feb. 10 near the northern coast of Alaska. The only two nearby towns are Deadhorse and Kaktovik. This object originally appeared on Feb. 9 and broke into pieces upon being shot down.

According to White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, this one posed a “reasonable threat” to civilian flight safety since it flew at about 40,000 feet and was about the size of a small car. Most commercial airlines do not fly higher than 45,000 feet.

Pentagon officials also said this object could not maneuver and appeared to be unmanned, according to Reuters.

The objects shot down over Yukon and off the coast of Alaska were believed to be carrying payloads either attached or suspended from them. The Department of Defense said none of the objects were manned or had detectable signal.

Pentagon officials considered using the jets’ guns to shoot down the objects instead of missiles, but it would have been more difficult, according to The Associated Press.

The Chinese spy balloon that started it all entered Alaskan airspace on Jan. 28 and was not shot down until Feb. 4.

By the time it was shot down, it had drifted into Canada before swerving back into the U.S. over Idaho. According to CNN, officials don’t believe it hovered over any sensitive sites until it was spotted over Montana on Feb. 1.

The balloon then travelled east before being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.

U.S. officials have insisted the balloon was being used for surveillance and intelligence gathering, but China has remained that the balloon was a civilian meteorology device that blew off course.

“Affected by the westerly wind and with limited self-control ability,” China’s Foreign Ministry said on Feb. 3, “the airship seriously deviated from the scheduled route.”

One Chinese official claimed the U.S. had flown unauthorized balloons in Chinese airspace more than 10 times since the start of last year.

The three successive unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) discovered following the spy balloon were smaller than the balloon, different in appearance and flew at lower altitudes. They are not consistent with the fleet of Chinese spy balloons that has targeted more than 40 countries even during the Trump administration.

The balloon that crossed over the U.S. was approximately the size of three school buses.

“Until a few months ago, we didn’t know about these balloons,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “It is wild that we didn’t know.”

U.S. officials have connected those balloons to a spy program linked to the People’s Liberation Army.

Rumors have swirled that the three UAPs could be related to extraterrestrials. Intelligence and defense officials have not ruled anything out.

Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) was asked most frequently while grocery shopping if the government had ruled out extraterrestrials.

“People want to know that they’re safe and that our homeland is safe,” she said.

UAP sightings have climbed significantly in the past two years, according to The Wall Street Journal. Since March 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has reported 366 UAP sightings. Most of them were reported by Navy and Air Force pilots.

Last summer, the Department of Defense created the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) to help study UAPs and coordinate a report with the ODNI.

The report said that more than half the 366 reports were likely unmanned aircraft, balloons or airborne debris, but 171 remain “uncharacterized and unattributed,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.

“Some of these uncharacterized UAP appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities, and require further analysis,” the report said.

The report did not classify any of the sightings as of extraterrestrial origin.

Mark Rodeghier, the scientific director for the Center for UFO Studies, said he has not seen evidence that these are “core UFO phenomena” since the military was able to shoot them down with missiles easily.

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