Several unidentified flying objects shot down over North America within a week of each other have members of the UFO community wondering what exactly the government might be hiding.
Events began to unfold two weeks ago when what was later identified as a Chinese spy balloon was downed off the coast of South Carolina by an F-22 fighter jet on Saturday, February 4th.
That balloon had caused quite a stir after floating over much of the United States prior to being brought down, although, a senior administration official assured the public, “The US military took immediate steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, mitigating any intelligence value to the [People’s Republic of China].”
Less than a week after that, an unidentified object was shot down in Alaskan airspace, followed by another such object being shot down the next day over Canada, and a third object shot down over Lake Huron last Sunday afternoon.
The origin and nature of the unidentified flying objects remains unknown, although a few details have emerged.
The object over Alaska was reportedly the size of a small car and “cylindrical and silver-ish gray,” while the one taken down over Canada was described as a “small, metallic balloon with a tethered payload below it,” and the object over Lake Huron was said to be octagonal with strings hanging off the side and no discernible payload.
None of the objects reportedly showed any signs of propulsion or maneuverability.
So far, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have claimed not to have recovered any wreckage from the downed objects.
“We are working very hard to locate them, but there’s no guarantee that we will. The terrain in the Yukon is rather treacherous right now so it could pose some significant challenges to us in in terms of our recovery efforts. The same could be said about what’s taking place in Lake Huron, the marine conditions are also not conducive at the moment,” said Sean McGillis, a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The lack of substantial information available to the public has fostered a variety of conspiracy theories surrounding the events.
One of the most popular within the UFO community is that these objects represent a reality far stranger than something prosaic like a spy balloon.
This theory is fueled by U.S. government releases like the recent 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, which stated that some unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP—the current government nomenclature for UFOs—included in the report “appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities and require further analysis.”
Unusual flight characteristics and performance capabilities have been at the forefront of the UFO discussion within government circles since the subject’s public resurgence several years ago.
Included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 was a directive to “account for characteristics and performance of unidentified aerial phenomena that exceed the known state of the art in science or technology, including in the areas of propulsion, aerodynamic control, signatures, structures, materials, sensors, countermeasures, weapons, electronics, and power generation; and […] provide the foundation for potential future investments to replicate any such advanced characteristics and performance.”
The White House was quick to deny the involvement of anything otherworldly in recent events.
“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 takedowns. Again, there is no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns. I wanted to make sure that the American people knew that; all of you knew that. And it was important for us to say that from here because we’ve been hearing a lot about it,” said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a press briefing earlier this week.
“Would you tell us, if there were?” asked a reporter in response.
“I loved ET the movie but I’m just gonna leave it there,” replied Jean-Pierre.
Still other conspiracy-minded individuals have suggested that recent coverage of these objects is a distraction from more serious news that the government would prefer to be forgotten, like the chemical spill in eastern Ohio earlier this month that resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of residents.
But this timing may just be a coincidence, according to government officials.
“Why are we just now seeing [these objects]? Heightened surveillance means we’re tracking more objects. These objects passed near [Department of Defense] facilities and posed a danger to commercial aircraft— [which is] why they were shot down … Newer technology has allowed for more detection in recent years. UAPs weren’t detected before because our radars were not adjusted for slow-moving objects,” tweeted Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) after a briefing by the White House yesterday.
Crenshaw called for “transparency” from the Biden administration, so that “Americans know what’s going on in the skies above their country.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) echoed that sentiment in a statement to the press following the briefing.
“We know what the spy balloon from China was, so put that one aside, the other three instances, as they are described both publicly and in [the briefing], are not new. I mean, we’ve heard the exact same description in hundreds of cases—dozens this year alone. So, observing unidentified objects over U.S. airspace, particularly over sensitive areas of the country, is not new. What we heard in there described, what we heard publicly described, sounds just like the stories heard repeatedly. And that’s why an agency was created, an interagency task force was created to study all of this from a scientific perspective,” he said. “And so, my concern now, is that the department of defense is not sharing that information with those scientists so that you can compare the data we have on these instances from the ones we have retroactively in the past—some of which have been explained.”
“I think there’s a stigma associated with this because of space aliens and all that stuff, but this is not about that. This is about whether an adversary has developed a capability that they know we’re not looking for because our systems are set up to see missiles and airplanes,” added Rubio.
The “interagency task force” referenced by Rubio is the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), which was formed in July of 2022 in an effort to expand the scope of the previously planned Airborne Object Identification and Management Group (AOIMSG).
This expansion of the Pentagon’s UFO investigation program came in the wake of low congressional confidence in their investigative efforts.
Following the release in 2021 of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s much anticipated preliminary assessment report on UFOs, many in the intelligence community were critical of what they saw as its failure to offer any concrete explanations for most of the incidents analyzed, especially in light of concerns surrounding secret Russian or Chinese technology.
The Pentagon then promised to overhaul the task force responsible for investigating UFOs, which led to the AOIMSG, which has since become AARO.
This continues Congress’s increasing interest in UFOs, displayed last year during a House Intelligence subcommittee hearing held on the subject—the first of its kind in over 50 years.
The congressional hearing gave lawmakers the opportunity to question the Pentagon regarding the issue of UFOs, and for government officials to explain their current position and outline plans to investigate the issue further.
There were few mentions of extraterrestrials during the hearing—although the Pentagon did express a particular interest in reports which include unusual flight characteristics, such as incredible speed, transmedium capabilities, and undetectable means of propulsion.
While politicians and the military seem loathe to suggest any UFOs might represent something other than human technology, there are those who would argue that the unusual flight characteristics in which the government seems most interested are currently unattainable by any known terrestrial science and that instances of them very well could represent an otherworldly presence.
Barring conclusive evidence in support of either position suddenly becoming publicly available, very few minds seem likely to change any time soon, and the lack of information provided by authorities will in all likelihood continue to foster an environment conducive to the creation of conspiracy theories.