Balloon and ‘octagonal thing’: Here’s what we know about what the US shot from the sky | Abroad
The United States has shot down at least four objects over North America in the past ten days. The case is shrouded in much obscurity and secrecy. On our NUjij response platform, this brings up many questions and a lot of theories, some more logical than others. NU.nl lists what we know (and just don’t know) for sure.
The thunder started on January 28. Then the Americans suddenly saw an unknown balloon floating in their airspace. According to the US Department of Defense, it was used by China to spy on US military bases.
The Chinese denied spying, but admitted it was their balloon. They said it was a windblown weather balloon.
The Americans waited a few days and fired the balloon from the sky on February 4. The debris fell off South Carolina into the Atlantic Ocean.
The incident sparked new tensions between the two superpowers. China called the ball drop an “obvious overreaction”. The country said it had the right to respond “appropriately”. The US Secretary of State subsequently canceled a trip to China.
Beijing then claimed that an American balloon had crossed Chinese airspace 10 times last year. A White House spokesperson called this “simply untrue.” The denial and the accusation at the same time (“We don’t do it, and besides the USA do it themselves”) is in any case not a strong argument on the part of the Chinese. Because no proof was provided.
Meanwhile, peace in North American airspace was far from returning. From February 10 to 12, the United States shot down an “object” for three days in a row. The objects did not resemble the balloon shot down earlier, according to the White House.
The first object, according to the United States, was the size of a small car. It flew at an altitude of about 12 kilometers, heading north. Because it posed a risk to aircraft, the object was shot down over Alaska on Friday, February 10.
The second object was seen and shot down a day later over the Yukon, a region in northwestern Canada. According to the first reports, it was cylindrical. CNN later quoted from a political memo that it was a “small metal balloon”. As the Yukon is very sparsely populated, the object could be safely shot down after consultation between the United States and Canada.
The third object was first seen by Canadian jet fighter pilots on Saturday evening. They lost sight of him at sunset. A day later, he was seen again on American territory. He was shot down over Lake Huron in Michigan.
The United States gave very little information about the third object. An anonymous official told the news agency Reuters that it was an “octagonal thing”.
It is unclear who owns the last three objects, what they are and where they came from. The official position of the US armed forces is that they don’t know. Unlike the ball, the other three objects have yet to be “claimed” by China, or any other country for that matter.
During a press conference, the American general Glen VanHerck did not even exclude the possibility that they are extraterrestrial objects. Another general later said anonymously Reuters that there is “no reason to believe the objects were extraterrestrial”.
The White House later officially denied that there was “aliens“. But what are the objects?” “We just don’t know,” the White House also said. Spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday there was no reason to believe the last three objects belonged to China. We won’t know until we’re able to find and examine the debris.”
It is certain that the first ball belongs to China. This was confirmed by the country itself. We still don’t know what the balloon was used for: espionage or innocent meteorological measurements? The United States has since retrieved the balloon debris from the water. They are under further investigation by the FBI.
The big question is: are there in fact suddenly more unknown objects, or is there just more attention for them? Probably the second, Chinese expert Frans-Paul van der Putten of the Clingendael Research Institute told NU.nl.
“It seems that Chinese balloons have already flown over American territory. But it was not announced at the time. That it happened now is not a good sign.”
Balloons were also suddenly spotted in other places around the world. For example, the Colombian Air Force saw a flight that allegedly flew over several countries in South America.
NORAD, the agency that monitors North American airspace, adjusted its radars even further after the first event. This made it possible to search for objects smaller than the ball he started with. It was apparently the size of three buses.
This resulted in at least three new discoveries. “We are definitely looking closer now,” he said. Reuters an American official. Even more balloons, octagonal objects or other unknown flying objects cannot be ruled out in the near future.
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