More incursions or more detections? Mystery surrounds airborne objects shot down over U.S. and Canada

By | February 12, 2023

The Guardian reports:

Questions remain after the US government shot down two high-altitude objects, one near Deadhorse, Alaska along the north-eastern Alaskan coast and a second near Yukon, Canada, that have yet to be identified.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Saturday afternoon that he had ordered the takedown of an unidentified object in Canadian airspace.

Though efforts by the navy, coast guard and FBI are under way to recover the object shot down near Alaska, officials had yet to identify its owner or purpose on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed to Canadian news outlet Global News that another “high-altitude airborne object” had been detected over northern Canada on Saturday. NORAD officials said that military aircraft are “currently operating from Alaska and Canada in support of [NORAD] activities”. American officials have not publicly commented on the airborne object seen near Canada.

The separate object that was ultimately shot down near Alaska flying at an altitude of 40,000ft, about the same level as commercial planes, and was travelling at about 20 to 40 miles per hour before it was struck down. Officials say the object had flown over parts of Alaska but was heading toward the north pole before it was struck down. American radars first identified the object’s presence around 9pm Alaska time on Thursday evening. A US warplane shot it down about 1.45pm ET on Friday. [Continue reading…]

CNN reports:

F-35 fighter jets were sent up to investigate after the object was first detected on Thursday, according to a US official. Kirby told reporters that the first fly-by of US fighter aircraft happened Thursday night, and the second happened Friday morning. Both brought back “limited” information about the object.

But the pilots later gave differing reports of what they observed, the source briefed on the intelligence said.

Some pilots said the object “interfered with their sensors” on the planes, but not all pilots reported experiencing that.

Some pilots also claimed to have seen no identifiable propulsion on the object, and could not explain how it was staying in the air, despite the object cruising at an altitude of 40,000 feet. [Continue reading…]

The Wall Street Journal reports:

U.S. officials said the object shot down Friday over Alaska was about the size of a car, smaller than the suspected Chinese spy balloon that the U.S. downed on Feb. 4. The balloon was about 200 feet long and carried a payload roughly the size of a jetliner, Pentagon officials said.

China has said the balloon was conducting research, not espionage. Officials from the Pentagon, State Department and FBI released new information last week to bolster the U.S.’s assertion that the Chinese balloon was used for surveillance.

Images captured by high-altitude U-2 surveillance planes showed that the balloon was equipped with multiple antennas, including an array likely capable of pinpointing the location of communications, a senior State Department official said.

Those U-2 and other reconnaissance flights also found that the balloon carried large solar panels capable of powering intelligence-collection sensors. The manufacturer of the balloon has a direct relationship with the Chinese military, the State Department official said.

Biden administration officials have identified at least four previous flights by Chinese surveillance balloons above the continental U.S. that went undetected until after they left American airspace. Three of those flights occurred during the Trump administration and one took place early in the Biden administration. [Continue reading…]

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand described the object [shot down on Saturday afternoon] as cylindrical to reporters Saturday night and said it was shot down at an altitude of about 40,000 feet. She said it appeared to be smaller than the downed Chinese balloon.

The latest object appeared to be a small metallic balloon with a tethered payload, according to U.S. officials familiar with the situation. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports:

The incursions in the past week have changed how analysts receive and interpret information from radars and sensors, a U.S. official said Saturday, partly addressing a key question of why so many objects have recently surfaced.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that sensory equipment absorbs a lot of raw data, and filters are used so humans and machines can make sense of what is collected. But that process always runs the risk of leaving out something important, the official said.

“We basically opened the filters,” the official added, much like a car buyer unchecking boxes on a website to broaden the parameters of what can be searched. That change does not yet fully answer what is going on, the official cautioned, and whether stepping back to look at more data is yielding more hits — or if these latest incursions are part of a more deliberate action by an unknown country or adversary. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports:

There were multiple theories in Washington as to the provenance of the objects, but several Biden administration officials cautioned that much remained unknown about the last two objects shot down. The United States has long monitored U.F.O.s that enter American airspace, and officials believe that surveillance operations by foreign powers, weather balloons or other airborne clutter may explain the most recent incidents of unidentified aerial phenomena — government-speak for U.F.O.s — as well as many episodes in past years.

However, nearly all of the incidents remain officially unexplained, according to a report that was made public in 2021. Intelligence agencies are set to deliver a classified document to Congress by Monday updating that report. The original document looked at 144 incidents between 2004 and 2021 that were reported by U.S. government sources, mostly American military personnel. [Continue reading…]

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The U.S. shot down a fourth flying object Sunday afternoon over Lake Huron, officials said, underscoring a stepped-up defense of North American airspace following the discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon.

“The U.S. military has decommissioned another ‘object’ over Lake Huron,” Rep. Jack Bergman (R., Mich.) tweeted Sunday.

A F-16 fighter jet shot down the object, according to a Congressional aide, who said the object was shaped like an octagon and was at an altitude of 20,000 feet, posing a hazard to commercial aircraft. The shooting unfolded roughly 14 miles inside the U.S. border over Lake Huron, a Canadian official said. [Continue reading…]

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