Why are there suddenly so many unidentified objects in US airspace?

It’s not aliens, but what the hell is going on?

In the wake of the Chinese surveillance balloon that flew across mainland North America in early February, the US and Canada experienced a sudden barrage of unidentified flying objects (or unidentified aerial phenomena, if you will) in their airspace.

These objects appeared in quick succession over the weekend, with radar picking up an object almost as soon as the last one was shot down. It’s a bizarre situation that has led the White House press secretary and top Air Force generals to respond publicly to questions about aliens in a much more serious tone than usual.

Here’s everything you need to know about the whole spy balloon/UFO situation – at least as far as anyone currently knows anything.

How many unidentified objects have been dropped so far?

US military planes have shot down four objects in US and Canadian airspace in the past week, starting with the Chinese surveillance balloon on Feb. Three as-yet-unidentified smaller objects followed in quick succession over the past weekend:

  • One over the frozen Bering Sea near Deadhorse, Alaska, on February 10 (radar first detected it on February 9)
  • Another over Canadian Yukon Territory on Feb 11 (radar first detected late Feb 10)
  • The last one over Lake Huron on February 12 (radar first detected it on the night of February 11)

What are these objects? Where did they come from?

Several representatives of the White House and the US military said over the weekend that they still don’t know where these unidentified objects came from or why they were flying over the US and Canada. A White House spokesman told reporters over the weekend that none of the three latest objects appeared to be transmitting electronic signals.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims to know nothing about the latest trio of objects, and still insists that the large balloon brought down on Feb. 4 was on a meteorological research mission (longtime UAP aficionados will recognize the familiar “era”. a weather balloon.” chorus).

At the moment, it’s unclear whether any of the three most recent objects carried a payload, such as surveillance equipment or scientific instruments; whether they were balloons or had rigid structures; or whether they had engines or simply floated – although reports from fighters that intercepted them reported that they moved at the speed and direction of the wind.

“We’re calling them objects, not balloons, for a reason,” said U.S. Air Force General Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canadian command also known as for its annual Santa Claus tracking on Christmas Eve) told reporters over the weekend.

However, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters he believes the objects dropped over Yukon and Alaska were balloons, reports Reuters.

What were the unidentified objects like?

The Chinese surveillance balloon that flew across the United States during the first few days of February before an F-22 shot it down over the Atlantic Ocean was a large white sphere, about 60 meters high, with a payload of surveillance and solar panels hanging below it. . Several photos of that first balloon were released, which quickly became the subject of memes.

The most recent trio of unidentified objects were much smaller than the big white balloon; reports describe the downed over Alaska on February 10 as being the size of a small car. But it looks like that’s where the similarities end, as all three objects reportedly had different shapes.

  • Fighter pilots who intercepted the Feb. 10 object said it looked nothing like an airplane (which, of course, narrows things down considerably). The object clearly had no crew and no maneuverability.
  • The Feb. 11 object was reportedly cylindrical but also, according to Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand, “similar in appearance” to the large balloon shot down on Feb. White House spokesman that the objects “don’t look very much like” the Chinese balloon. Make of it what you will.
  • And the Feb. 12 object, shot down over Lake Huron, is described as hexagonal with strings dangling from the bottom — but no payload attached to them.

“We will not definitively characterize them until we can recover the wreckage, which we are working on,” a White House spokesman said at a news conference over the weekend.

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – FEBRUARY 08: Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. General Pat Ryder holds a press conference at the Pentagon on February 8, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia. Ryder spoke about the Chinese surveillance balloon program and gave an update on the recovery of the balloon that was recently shot down in US airspace. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Have any of the unidentified objects ever been recovered?

US Navy recovery teams spent the weekend trying to recover as much of the Chinese balloon as possible from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean – an effort that included divers and autonomous underwater vehicles.

Recovery efforts are also underway for the February 10 (Alaska) and February 11 (Yukon) objects, with Canadian agencies leading the effort within their own borders. But both efforts have to contend with harsh winters in the Bering Sea and far northwest Canada, respectively.

Were the balloons a threat?

US and Canadian officials stressed that none of the three unidentified objects – or the Chinese surveillance balloon that started this whole saga – was a threat to people on the ground. And none of the objects appeared to have any hostile action against any of the intercepted aircraft. The trio of smaller objects over the weekend was a potential threat to air traffic, however, only by being there.

Two of the objects were flying at around 40,000 feet, and the most recent one was at 20,000 feet; Commercial planes tend to cruise at around 30,000 feet. That’s why US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the order to drop these objects so they wouldn’t collide with a passing plane and cause a fatal accident.

On the other hand, concern for the safety of people on land led the Biden administration to hold back and let the Chinese balloon continue flying until it was safe over the Atlantic. Authorities have expressed concern that falling debris could injure people or property on the ground if they bring the balloon down onto land.

CHARLOTTE, USA – FEBRUARY 4: Chinese spy balloon flies overhead in Charlotte NC, United States on February 04, 2023. The Pentagon has previously announced that it is tracking an alleged high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon above the continental US. A statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the balloon was a “civilian airship used for research, mainly for meteorological purposes”.

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Are we at war now?


The Chinese balloon caused a major international incident, prompting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a planned visit to Beijing. And in the wake of the flurry of smaller unidentified objects this weekend, Trudeau described a “very serious situation”. None of this adds up to an impending military conflict, however.

Are these objects UFOs? Are they aliens?

“There is no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent crashes,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters over the weekend. An anonymous Defense Department source told Reuters pretty much the same thing – after VanHerck said during Sunday’s news conference that he wasn’t ruling anything out.

But technically these objects are – or were, since they are no longer flying – UFOs or unidentified flying objects. But that just comes from the fact that they haven’t been publicly identified yet.

Why are there suddenly so many unidentified objects in US airspace?

The Chinese spy balloon saga in early February attracted a lot of attention from the public, elected officials and the military. In response, Defense Department officials say they have adjusted their radar systems, which normally look for fast-moving targets like aircraft and missiles, to also look for smaller, slower objects like balloons. So part of the answer is that suddenly we’re seeing so many of these objects because we’re actually looking for them.

But there could also be some connection between the most recent trio of unidentified objects. During a press conference in the Yukon Territory, Trudeau told reporters, “Obviously there is some sort of pattern there – the fact that we’re seeing this to a significant degree in the last week is cause for interest and a lot of attention.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese spy balloon shot down on Feb. 4 was not the first of its kind to penetrate US airspace or fly over secret military installations; at least four other spy balloons have flown over the US (and at least 40 other countries, lest we start thinking we’re special) in the last four years, the New York Times reports. The one who made headlines in early February was the first to get caught; the other four appeared in a review of archived radar data.

And with NASA and the Department of Defense already looking more seriously at decades of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) reports, recent events could add new urgency to that process — not because authorities think they’re aliens, but because they’re realizing it. how much Earth-based surveillance activity in US and Canadian airspace they may have missed.

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