Objects in the sky cause scarce amongst Americans

Objects in the sky cause scarce amongst Americans

Timeline for unidentified flying objects

4 February: US military shoots down suspected surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina. It had drifted for days over the US, and officials said it came from China and had been monitoring sensitive sites.

10 February: US downs another object off northern Alaska which officials said lacked any system of propulsion or control.

11 February: An American fighter jet shoots down a “high-altitude airborne object” over Canada’s Yukon territory, about 100 miles (160 km) from the US border. It was described as cylindrical and smaller than the first balloon.

12 February: US jets shoot down a fourth high-altitude object near Lake Huron “out of an abundance of caution”.

The US military doesn’t know what the three flying objects it shot out of the sky above North America were, nor does it know how they managed to stay in the air.

The fourth object to be brought down this month was ordered on Sunday by President Joe Biden.

The US said that because to its altitude of 20,000 feet (6,100 metres), the object would have impeded commercial air traffic.

It might be a “gaseous type of balloon” or “some kind of propulsion device,” a military commander speculated.

Aliens might still be responsible for the objects, he noted.

Defence officials have called the most recent object, which was shot down over Lake Huron in Michigan close to the Canadian border, an unmanned “octagonal construction” with strings attached.

At 14:42 local time, a missile launched from an F-16 fighter jet brought it down (19:42 GMT).

Further doubts are raised by the occurrence regarding the recent spate of high-altitude objects that have been shot down over North America.

General Glen VanHerck, commander of US Northern Command, stated that there was no sign of any threat.

“I’m not going to categorise them as balloons. We’re calling them objects for a reason,” he said.

“What we are seeing is very, very small objects that produce a very, very low radar cross-section,” he added.

Speculation as to what the objects may be has intensified in recent days.

“I will let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out,” Gen VanHerck said when asked if it was possible the objects are aliens or extra-terrestrials.

“I haven’t ruled out anything at this point.”

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After circling the US for several days, a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4. According to officials, it was developed in China and deployed to keep an eye on critical websites.

China claimed the object was a weather monitoring equipment that had gone awry and denied it was used for surveillance. Tensions between Washington and Beijing increased as a result of the incident and the heated discussions that followed.

But on Sunday, a defence official claimed that the US had spoken to Beijing about the first object after waiting for several days for a response. What was being discussed was not immediately obvious.

American fighter jets had shot down three additional high-altitude objects in as many days since the initial incident.

On Friday, President Biden gave the order to shoot down an item over northern Alaska, and on Saturday, another similar object was also shot down over the Yukon in western Canada.

The search in Alaska has been constrained by arctic circumstances, but both the US and Canada are actively seeking to recover the debris.

“These objects did not closely resemble and were much smaller than, the [4 February] balloon and we will not definitively characterise them until we can recover the debris,” a White House National Security spokesperson said.

The US has flown balloons into Chinese airspace more than ten times in the last year, according to a report from China’s foreign ministry on Monday.

The US frequently violates other nations’ airspace, according to Wang Wenbin, the foreign ministry’s spokeswoman, during a press conference.

A US official told the Washington Post on Saturday that broadening the scope of the radar and sensor search could lead to the discovery of the most recent objects.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, compared it to a vehicle buyer unticking boxes on a webpage to expand the search criteria.

But he added that it wasn’t obvious if this was causing more hits or if the recent invasions were a result of a more planned attack.