Military brass in the United States claimed to be unaware of the specifics and intention behind the unidentified airborne objects downed in American and Canadian airspace since last Friday.
US Air Force F-16 fighter. The US military has gunned down a fourth unidentified flying object this month. This time over Lake Huron in Michigan.
Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images
At a media briefing on Sunday, General Glen VanHerck, the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), stated that the manner by which the most recent airborne objects remain in the sky and move is unknown, unlike the balloon shot down near the shore of South Carolina on February 4th, which had been identified as an espionage plane.
"I’m not going to categorize them as balloons," he said. "We’re calling them objects for a reason. I'm not able to categorize how they stay aloft."
When queried if he had dismissed the notion that the three airborne objects destroyed by U.S. fighter jets over the last few days were of extraterrestrial origin, General Glen VanHerck said the following, "I'll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven't ruled out anything."
VanHerck continued to admonish, "At this point, we continue to assess every threat or potential threat, unknown, that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it."
An unidentified flying object that crashed into Lake Huron on Sunday, making it the fourth such incident in two weeks, was initially described by a high-ranking government representative as an octagon with dangling strings attached, though there was no visible cargo.
VanHerck reported that the aircraft shot down over the course of the three-day period by North American forces were alike in terms of size and form.
On Saturday night, NORAD and the United States Northern Command reported that fighter jets had been dispatched to inspect a strange occurrence as picked up by radar in the region of Montana. However, there was no visible confirmation of any items.
On Sunday, VanHerck reported that the reappearance of an unusual event caused the military to devise a strategy as it traveled towards Lake Huron that day.
Following the destruction of a Chinese surveillance balloon earlier this month, two U.S. defense officials have stated that the American military is now examining a wider array of radar data when observing North American airspace.
The question of whether the military is seeing something new or something that was already there but had gone unnoticed is yet to be answered.
What Exactly Were the Four Objects?
In late January, a large Chinese balloon, which the US authorities have suggested was a surveillance device, floated across American skies for a few days prior to being shot down by an F-22 jet in the vicinity of the South Carolina coastline on Feb. 4. China maintained that the balloon was being used for meteorological research.
The Department of Defense reported that they had a gondola that was approximately three buses in size; it was outfitted with plenty of antennas, and carried solar panels capable of supplying electricity to many intelligence-gathering sensors.
On Friday, 10 February, US fighter jets claimed to have brought down an unidentified object in northern Alaska, according to the military. They asserted that the object was within American sovereign airspace and over the United States territorial waters and that it had no form of propulsion or control.
On Saturday, a US F-22 jet, at the behest of US and Canadian authorities, fired upon and destroyed an unidentified airborne object located in Canada's Yukon region near the US border, due to the perceived danger it potentially posed to civilian aircraft. Canada described the object as cylindrical and smaller than an average balloon.
As previously stated, Joe Biden made a decision to take down the strange object hovering over Lake Huron n Michigan based on the advice of the leaders of the armed forces after the object's track and altitude raised worries about dangers to civilian airline travel. It was decided that it was not a military hazard, but it might have had the capacity for surveillance, according to the declaration.
Beijing has only been credited with one item thus far. The US military officer in charge of US airspace security stated on Sunday that he could not determine what was keeping the three objects that had been shot down over the past three days airborne; he further noted that he was not labeling them balloons for a specific purpose.
How Does This Affect the US-China Relationship?
The US government has canceled Antony Blinken's trip to China and imposed sanctions on six Chinese organizations that are assumed to back military spy balloon programs.
The People's Republic of China condemned the destruction of the initial balloon, claiming it seriously violated international practice.
“For the United States to insist on using armed force is clearly an excessive reaction that seriously violates international convention,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “China will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of the enterprise involved, and retains the right to respond further.”
To date, there has been no response from China to the recent incidents.