Within the span of two weeks in February 2023, U.S. military pilots shot down four mysterious objects spotted over the United States and Canada.
The armed forces identified the pioneer of such items as a 200-foot-tall (60 meters) Chinese spy balloon, bouncing approximately 60,000 feet (18,200 meters) over Alaska in late January; The U.S. government tracked the balloon for a few days as it floated southeast throughout the country, eventually recording it with a fighter jet off the South Carolina coast on Feb. 4.
The 3 other objects, including a car sized cylinder shot down over Canada’s chilly Yukon territory and an unusual octagonal object shot into the waters of Lake Huron, remain unidentified and were just about all destroyed between Feb. 9 as well as 12. These 3 objects had been less sophisticated than the spy balloon, White House officials stated in a Feb. 13 media briefing, and floated between altitudes of 20,000 and 40,000 feet (6,000 as well as 12,000 m). They had been operating within the same airspace used by commercial aircraft, adding to the security risk, officials said.
These rapid-fire incidents have left many wondering why the governing administration is all of a sudden detecting – and destroying – numerous unknown objects in U.S. and Canadian airspace. Is the army locating more items than usual up there, or are they just getting better at tracking them?
Officials in several places have been clear on one point, even though it is not possible to find out for sure how many objects are in the airspace of any given nation. After the detection of the Chinese surveillance balloon in late January, the armed forces deliberately expanded its search for foreign objects at similar altitudes. Evidently, that effort was a success.
“We are more closely looking at our airspace at these altitudes, such as improving our radar, which may at least partly explain the increase of things that we have detected within the past week,” Melissa Dalton, the assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense as well as Hemispheric Affairs, said at a news briefing on Feb. 12.
In other words: After the military successfully tracked the spy balloon across the nation for a number of days, they discovered the best way to detect similar objects at similar altitudes which had previously gone unnoticed, Jack Weinstein, a professor of global security at Boston University and retired lieutenant general with the U.S. Air Force, told Live Science in an interview.
Weinstein pointed out: “it all stems from the balloon. “the military is only at this point finding out how to monitor those items,” she said.
Even though the military has not identified any of the three objects shot down in February, the U.S. and Canadian governments have suggested a pattern between these items as well as the downed spy balloon and refused to rule out the possibility that they are all a component of a foreign spying effort. John Kirby, a representative for the White House National Security Council, mentioned to the Feb. 13 press briefing that China is surveilling the U.S. with high-altitude spy balloons for several years – more than since the administration of former President Donald Trump – but that those items had never been detected before now.
In addition, China has reported the U.S. has flown spy balloons into its airspace more than 10 times since January 2022, National Public Radio reported.
A UFO culture shift
The strange events from early February are just the latest in a series of hundreds of encounters between U.S. military personnel and alleged unidentified flying objects (UFOs) – or unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), as the military prefers to call them – reported over the last couple of years.
In 2022 alone, Department of Defense officials opened investigations into 366 reported UAP sightings – 171 of which remained unresolved by the end of the year, according to the 1st annual report of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), a Pentagon office created in early 2022 to investigate alleged UAP sightings by military personnel.
That single year’s case load is more than double the 144 alleged UAP encounters reported by the military during the prior 17 years, based on a Pentagon report detailing UAP sightings between 2004 and 2021.
This huge surge in alleged UAP sightings could be the result of a “culture shift” within the military, Weinstein told Live Science, with army personnel less likely to feel stigmatized for reporting their unusual encounters.
“The military may be transitioning to a culture where people aren’t ridiculed for reporting unknown phenomena that maybe in the past they would be ridiculed for,” Weinstein said, adding that his father – a radio operator on a WWII bomber – observed phenomena he could not describe, but did not feel comfortable reporting them.
“The culture now allows pilots to produce those reports,” said Weinstein.
Of the 366 newly opened UAP cases in the past year, 163 have been solved as “balloons or balloon-like entities,” according to the AARO year-end report. Another 26 cases were identified as drones, and 6 others were labeled as airborne “clutter” including plastic bags or birds. Cases from previous years have also been linked to weather phenomena and optical illusions.
There is no mention of extraterrestrial aliens as a possible reason for the UAP anywhere in the report. This’s not a surprise for Weinstein.
If you were smart enough to move from another world to Earth, you’d be smart enough not to be caught, “Weinstein said.