US jets down 4 flying objects in 8 days, unprecedented in peacetime

WASHINGTON: A US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” over Lake Huron on Sunday on orders from President Joe Biden. It was the fourth such downing in eight days and the latest military strike in a string of unusual events over US airspace. Pentagon officials believe there is no peacetime precedent.
Part of the reason for the repeated shoot-downs was due to “high alert” after a spy balloon from China appeared over US airspace in late January, said General Glen VanHerck, who stood head part NORAD and US Northern Command, said at a news conference with reporters.
Since then, fighter jets last week have also shot down objects in Canada and Alaska. Pentagon officials say they pose no threat, but so little is known about them that Pentagon officials can’t rule out any possibility – including UFOs.
“We took a closer look at our airspace at these altitudes, including increasing our radar, which could at least partially explain the increase,” said Melissa Dalton, said the assistant secretary of defense for defense.
The US authorities have made it clear that they are constantly monitoring for unidentified radar signals and that it is not uncommon to close the airspace as a precaution to assess them. But the unusually assertive response is raising questions about whether such a use of force is warranted, especially as administration officials say the objects are not a major concern. about national security and the downing was just out of caution.
VanHerck said the US has adjusted its radar to be able to track slower moving objects. “With some tweaking, we can now better classify radar paths,” he said, “and that’s why I think you’re seeing these, plus having a high alert to look for this information.”
He added: “I believe this is the first time in the US or US airspace that NORAD or US Northern Command has taken kinetic action against an airborne object.”
When asked if officials would rule out the possibility of aliens, VanHerck said, “I haven’t ruled out anything at this point.”
Pentagon officials said they were still trying to pinpoint exactly what the objects were and said they had considered using a jet’s gun instead of a missile, but that proved too difficult. towel. They made a clear distinction between the three balloons shot down this weekend and the one from China.
The special air defense operation began in late January, when a white orb that officials said was from China appeared over the United States and hovered over the country for days before fighters shot it down off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That event took place via live stream. Since then, many Americans have been captivated by the drama unfolding in the sky as warplanes battle each other to shoot down objects.
The latest landing was first spotted Saturday night over Montana, but it was initially thought to be an anomaly. Pentagon officials said Sunday that radar detected it again while hovering over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and it was passing over Lake Huron.
US and Canadian authorities restricted some airspace over the lake earlier Sunday as planes scrambled to intercept and try to locate the object. According to a senior administration official, the object was octagonal in shape, with strings dangling but with no apparent payload. It was flying low at about 20,000 feet, the official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials are still trying to pinpoint two other objects shot down by an F-22 fighter jet and are working to determine whether China is responsible for the concern. afraid to escalate what Washington calls Beijing’s large-scale aerial surveillance program.
An object shot down Saturday over Canada’s Yukon was described by U.S. officials as a balloon significantly smaller than the balloon — the size of three school buses — that was hit by a rocket on Feb. 4. A flying object that crashed on the far north coast of Alaska on Friday was more cylindrical and described as a type of airship.
Both are believed to have a payload, either attached to or suspended from them, according to officials who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. Officials could not say who launched the objects and are working to find their source.
These three objects are much smaller in size, different in appearance and fly at a lower altitude than the spy balloon that is suspected to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after the US missile attack.
Officials said the other three objects are not suitable for China’s fleet of aerial surveillance balloons that have targeted more than 40 countries, at least since the Trump administration.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told ABC’s “This Week” that US officials were working quickly to recover the debris. Using shorthand to describe objects resembling balloons, he said US military and intelligence officials were “highly focused” on gathering and amassing information, then compile it. Prepare a comprehensive analysis.
“The bottom line is that until a few months ago, we didn’t know about these balloons,” Schumer, DN.Y., said of the spying program the authorities have linked to the People’s Liberation Army, China’s army. “It was wild that we didn’t know.”
Eight days ago, F-22 jets shot down a large white balloon that had been hovering over the United States for days at an altitude of about 60,000 feet. US officials immediately blamed China, saying the balloon was equipped to detect and collect signals intelligence and could maneuver on its own. White House officials said improved surveillance helped detect it.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the unmanned balloon was a civilian meteorological balloon that went off course. Beijing said the US had “overreacted” when it shot down.
Then, on Friday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the combined U.S.-Canadian organization that provides joint defense of the airspace over the two countries, detected and shot down an object. near the sparsely populated Deadhorse, Alaska.
Later that evening, NORAD detected a second object, flying at high altitude over Alaska, US officials said. It entered Canadian airspace on Saturday and flew over the Yukon, a remote territory, when it was ordered to be shot down by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In both of those incidents, the objects flew at about 40,000 feet. Sunday’s object was flying at 20,000 feet.
The cases have raised diplomatic tensions between the United States and China, raising questions about Beijing’s level of surveillance of Americans and prompting days of Republican criticism from Republican lawmakers over the response. of the government.


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