The US military shot down another high altitude object over Lake Huron on Sunday afternoon, the Pentagon said.
Another unidentified object was shot down over northern Canada on Saturday, marking the third time in a week that US fighter jets have taken down objects in North American airspace. Last Friday, an unidentified object was shot down in Alaska airspace by a US F-22. And on February 4, a Chinese surveillance balloon was taken down by F-22s off the coast of South Carolina.
That marks the beginning and the end of what we know definitively.
Here’s everything we still don’t know, and some of the things we do:
Are the latest objects related to China’s spy balloon? There’s no indication at this point whether the unidentified objects have any connection to China’s surveillance balloon.
Canadian retired Maj. Gen. Scott Clancy, former director of operations at NORAD and former deputy commander of the Alaskan NORAD Region, said on Monday he does not believe China is behind the unidentified objects that have been shot down in recent days. He explained that it could be a “confluence of a distinctive activity by our adversaries to test the systems.”
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, Melissa Dalton told reporters on Sunday they were taken down out of an “abundance of caution.”
Dalton said that high-altitude objects can be used by a range of companies, countries, and research organizations for “purposes that are not nefarious, including legitimate research.”
No. They’re not aliens. It’s still unclear, but we’re not dealing with aliens. During a midday briefing on Monday, the White House offered one detail of certainty: the objects did not originate from outer space.
“I just wanted to make sure we address this from the White House: I know there have been questions and concerns about this but there is no — again, no — indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent take-downs,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
A US official told CNN there has been caution inside the Biden administration on the pilot descriptions of the unidentified objects shot down over Alaska and Canada due to the circumstances in which the objects were viewed.
But at least two high-ranking officials have made reference to balloons.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told ABC News that he was briefed on the object by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and that the object shot down over Canada was likely another balloon — as was the high-altitude object downed over Alaska on Friday.
Canada’s chief of defense staff, Gen. Wayne Eyre, also made mention of a “balloon” when describing instructions given to the team that worked to take down the object.
A Pentagon memo sent to lawmakers and obtained by CNN said the object shot down over Canada appeared to be a “small, metallic balloon with a tethered payload below it.”
Why are these objects being spotted now? Notably, the US intelligence community’s method to track China’s fleet of surveillance balloons was only discovered within the last year, six people familiar with the matter told CNN.
The findings have allowed the US to develop a consistent technical method for the first time, which they have used to track the balloons in near-real time across the globe, the sources said.