“We’re calling them objects, not balloons, for a reason,” said Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, the commander of the United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Gen. VanHerck’s commands essentially oversee American airspace.
"At this point we continue to assess every threat or potential threat, unknown, that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it," he told reporters.
VanHerck’s comments came at a press conference on February 12, 2023, after the third American shootdown of an unidentified flying object in American or Canadian airspace since the downing of a Chinese balloon on Feb. 4th. The general told reporters that he was not ruling out aliens or any other explanation.
“I'll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven't ruled out anything," he told reporters. The press conference was called just a few hours after an American F-16 Fighting Falcon shot down an “octagonal-shaped object” over Lake Huron. All four of the downed objects were shot down within just a week of one another.
Since most of the debris from the objects have yet to be found, they are also still to be identified and analyzed by the intelligence community of any nation. The military can’t say what the objects are, who sent them, or even what kept them in the air.
The octagonal shaped object floating near the U.S.-Canada border was shot down at 2:42 p.m. local time, under orders from President Joe Biden. Though the object didn’t appear to be a threat, its altitude at 20,000 feet could have interfered with commercial air traffic. It also might have had reconnaissance capabilities.
According to Reuters reporters who quoted anonymous DoD officials, the object also appeared to have strings hanging from it, but no other discernible payload description. It was very much like another unidentified flying object detected in the airspace over Montana, sear sensitive American military sites.
That object, the third, was shot down over Canada’s Yukon Territory on the orders of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The second UFO shot down by Canadian and American defense forces after the Chinese balloon was an object that appeared near Deadhorse, Alaska. It was down over sea ice in American territorial waters. That object was smaller than the Chinese balloon, reportedly the size of a small car, incapable of moving, and had no humans aboard. Flying at 40,000 feet, it too was shot down as a threat to civilian air traffic.
Although the original balloon came from China, as Chinese officials admit, the origins of the most recent objects remain unknown and no one has stepped forward to claim them. Despite Gen. VanHerck’s otherworldly descriptions, another anonymous U.S. defense official told Reuters reporters that there was no evidence the objects were alien in origin, either.
In recent years, the Pentagon has acknowledged the existence of UFOs as unidentified flying objects, but has moved to calling them "unidentified aerial phenomena," or UAPs, a rebranding meant to dispel the idea that the targets might be extraterrestrial in nature.
With the Chinese balloon debacle, it’s important to recognize that threats to the United States are still more likely to come from Earth than outer space.