Something strange is taking place in the skies over North America. Over the past ten days, no less than four different unidentified aerial objects have been shot down over the US and Canada in what has been an unprecedented use of force by the military during peacetime.
The whole saga started at the beginning of the month when a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted floating over Montana and was later shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina. The Biden Administration later claimed the spy balloon was part of a years-long surveillance scheme by the foreign government. The Chinese Foreign Ministry later confirmed that the balloon had launched from the mainland but insisted that it was a civilian aircraft used for meteorological research and simply blew off course.
In the days since, the U.S. has shot down a "car-sized" object over Alaska, a "cylindrical" object over the Yukon region of Canada and most recently another over Lake Huron although John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Counsel, noted that they have yet to recover any debris from the other three so they are unable to determine their origin. Initial assessments seem to indicate that the other three unidentified aerial objects are believed to be benign in nature and likely don't have any connections to the Chinese government's spy program.
Kirby conceded in a White House briefing that "a range of entities — including countries, companies, research and academic organizations — operate objects at these altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious at all, including scientific research."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did say in a statement to to the media that there does appear to be a "pattern" to the string of unidentified objects: “The fact that we are seeing this in a significant degree over the past week is a cause for interest and close attention, which is exactly what we’re doing. We’ve deployed significant resources here to be able to recover the object, as well as diplomatic and international engagements going on to find more information and get solutions on this.”
And while the prospect of extraterrestrials or a greater spy conspiracy definitely sounds like a more exciting explanation for all of the mysterious flying objects being shot out of the sky, the more boring reality is that the outbreak of unidentified aerial phenomenon is the result of recent changes to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and other agencies. The entities have reconfigured their detection devices to pick up smaller, slower-moving objects that they previously hadn't scanned for, as well as a shift in the cost-and-benefit analysis by the military when determining whether or not to shoot them down.
This latest change in policy stance comes after a much more widespread effort by the American government to declassify reports on UFOs and a push by the Department of Defense to better detect, assess and mitigate unknown aerial threats. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee's Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation subcommittee held a hearing on the topic of unidentified aerial phenomenon and the threat they pose to national security.
"For too long, the stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis," Democratic Rep. André Carson of Indiana said of the hearing. "Pilots avoided reporting, or were laughed at when they did. DOD officials relegated the issue to the back room, or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community."
Photo via Getty