Four objects have been shot down over North American airspace in an eight-day span since the beginning of February, an unusually high rate during peacetime. In the days following the shootdown of a Chinese spy balloon on February 4 over South Carolina, three more unidentified flying objects were shot down in North American airspace by the U.S. military. The first was shot down in Alaska on February 10, the second was shot down the next day after flying over the Yukon, and the third was shot down on a third straight day when flying over the Great Lakes region, according to CBS News.
Little is known about the first or second aircraft, including where they are from, what they were doing in North American airspace, and their capabilities. U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the first object to be shot down after it flew directly over Alaskan waters at an altitude that put it at risk of colliding with civilian aircraft. In regard to the first object that was shot down to the United States, the U.S. military commented that the craft’s “speed and small size, coupled with the nighttime darkness, left military commanders with few good options upon the initial intercept,” said The Washington Post. After observing the object, U.S. fighter jet pilots determined that the craft did not have a pilot, and was traveling at a high speed. They additionally observed that the craft had an abnormal flight pattern and trajectory that seemed to be manipulated by the speed of the winds.
CBS News continues that the decision to shoot the object that flew over Canada’s Yukon Territory came from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) on Saturday, February 11. Officials from NORAD are currently trying to recover parts of the object from the wreckage; however, the task is difficult due to the freezing waters the object landed in. The object was flying at an altitude of nearly 40,000 feet, the maximum height that an airline can fly at, and was about the size of a small car.
According to The Washington Post, the U.S. government claims that there has been an exponential increase in objects shot out of the air due to their radar being readjusted. NORAD had previously been focusing their radar on fast-moving objects that usually generated high heat levels, which explains why the balloon was not quickly detected and had time to travel through part of the country before being spotted.
According to , General Glen Van Herck, NORAD’s commander, said the U.S. has adjusted its radar to track slower objects. “With some adjustments, we’ve been able to get a better categorization of radar tracks now,” he said, “and that’s why I think you’re seeing these, plus there’s a heightened alert to look for this information.”
The shooting down of the three objects came directly after the discovery of a Chinese spy balloon floating over the Montana countryside. The balloon was shot down after traveling eastward into South Carolina. The Washington Post continues that the suspected origin of the balloon was confirmed by the U.S. government. Originally, the U.S. commented with aggression towards the shooting of the spy balloon, but recent developments indicate that it may have blown into U.S. airspace accidentally, according to NBC News.
President Biden recently spoke to the media, addressing the incidents involving the objects and the balloon originating from Beijing. President Biden commented that there was no definitive evidence that the balloon was being used for spying purposes, and told reporters that the objects were “most likely” originated from private companies or research institutions, according to Sky News.
China has called the actions of the U.S. in response to the unidentified objects “a trigger-happy reaction” to a harmless situation, according to BBC News, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning calling the situation “a clear overreaction” and “unacceptable and irresponsible.” Chinese officials claimed ownership of the balloon and lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. embassy in Beijing regarding their failure to return it. China’s Defense Ministry said they “reserved the right to use necessary means to deal with similar situations.”
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