The Pentagon has reported that United States military jets brought down an object flying close to the Canadian border in the Midwest region. Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Ryder said the object flew at 6,100 meters (20,000ft). Although it was not considered a military threat, it could have potentially disrupted domestic air traffic. This comes after North American security forces were put on high alert due to a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon.
The Pentagon has reported that US fighter jets shot down an unidentified object flying near the Canadian border in the Midwest. This latest occurrence follows the heightened security measures after a Chinese surveillance balloon was detected in North America.#unidentifiedobject pic.twitter.com/4jt9E4Cmoo
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) February 13, 2023
According to the statement, the object was taken down at 2:42 pm local time over Lake Huron at the US-Canada boundary. The Pentagon stated that the object had been detected flying over Montana close to sensitive military locations, leading to the closure of US airspace. This marks the third incident in North America in just three days and the fourth in a little over a week.
The recent spike in defensive measures began in the latter part of January when a white balloon was spotted floating over the United States. It remained suspended for several days, making the US suspect it was a Chinese surveillance balloon. The balloon was eventually shot down by fighter jets near the coast of South Carolina on February 4. The most recent object, which appeared to be in the shape of an octagon with strings attached but no visible payload, was brought down, according to an official.
Not Rule out Aliens
The US Air Force General in charge of safeguarding US airspace, General Glen VanHerck, stated in a press conference that the military has not been able to determine the nature or origin of the three most recent unidentified objects. VanHerck, the head of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command, emphasized that the military is referring to the objects as “objects” and not balloons, as the true nature of the objects remains unknown. The General stated that he would not dismiss the possibility of aliens or any other explanation for the objects.
General VanHerck stated that he would leave it to the intelligence and counterintelligence communities to uncover the truth about the objects. Meanwhile, lawmakers have been demanding additional information regarding the objects. Representative Debbie Dingell commented that the facts about the objects’ origin, purpose, and increasing frequency are crucial to be known.
Heino Klinck, an ex-deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia in the US, spoke to Al Jazeera and stated that the government needs to be more transparent about the recent incursions. Klinck acknowledged the government’s challenge in releasing information without revealing sensitive sources and methods. He emphasized that while it is important not to give adversaries information about what the government can detect and how it obtains intelligence, it is time for the government to provide some information to the public.
Unidentified Flying Object Prompts Airspace Restrictions near US-Canada Border
According to US officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, the latest unidentified object was first noticed on Saturday evening over Montana. However, it was initially mistaken as an error on the radar. The object was detected again on Sunday as it hovered over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and moved across Lake Huron. In response, US and Canadian authorities temporarily restricted some airspace over the lake, and fighter jets were deployed to intercept and determine the object’s identity.
In the meantime, Canadian authorities are trying to locate the object’s remains brought down on Saturday in the Yukon, an area with a low population density in the northwestern part of the country. “Teams are currently on the ground searching for and analyzing the object,” stated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference on Sunday. “The safety of our nationals is our top priority, which is why I decided to shoot down the unidentified object,” he added, indicating that it posed a risk to civilian airplanes.
As there are concerns in Washington about a possible large-scale aerial surveillance program orchestrated by Beijing, US officials are working to determine the identity of the recently shot-down objects. Meanwhile, the nature and origin of the recent three flying objects are closely monitored. Unlike the previously suspected surveillance balloon, these objects have a distinct appearance, are smaller in size, and fly at lower altitudes. The Chinese government has criticized the shooting down of the balloon. China denied the claims that the first balloon was used for surveillance purposes and stated it was a weather monitoring station for civilians.