U.S. Defends Airspace Against UFOs

Joe Ramlet, opinions editor

Lawmakers, military members and average Americans are looking for answers after a series of unidentified aerial phenomena, more commonly called unidentified flying objects or UFOs, were tracked and shot down over North American airspace over the past several weeks. On Feb. 10, the U.S. military downed a high-altitude object off the coast of Alaska and shot down a cylindrical object in Canada’s Yukon territory the next day. The Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard took down yet another UFO over Lake Huron on Sunday, Feb. 12. This all came roughly a week after a suspected Chinese spy balloon floated across the continental United States for five days before being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 4.

Downing the balloon exacerbated already tense relations between the U.S. and China, who initially said the object was a weather balloon gone terribly astray and used only for civilian purposes. Secretary of State Antony Blinken swiftly canceled a high-stakes trip to Beijing in the wake of the incident. President Biden said he wanted the balloon taken down sooner, but was advised to wait until it was over the ocean for safety concerns. The balloon was the first object downed in North American airspace by the joint U.S.-Canada North American Aerospace Defense Command in its 65-year history.

While investigations of the balloon are ongoing, more questions remain surrounding the other three UFOs. Supernatural enthusiasts and average people alike were excited to hear NORAD’s commanding officer Gen. Glen VanHerck say, “I haven’t ruled out anything,” when asked about the possibility of the objects being extraterrestrial or alien. However, since then, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre clarified that “there is no — again, no — indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent take-downs.”

NORAD and other defense officials offered potential explanations as to why the UFOs were discovered in rapid succession. After the spy balloon from China was discovered, radar detection and other early warning systems were heightened to look for any more potential threats. The stronger signals pick up more objects in the air, though it can be hard to discern between weather events or actual airborne objects that are otherwise unaccounted for.

Saying they are unsure of how they remained airborne or what their capabilities were, NORAD and military leaders remain perplexed by the latter three objects. The objects were nondescript shapes, either cylindrical or octagonal, some with strings hanging off or other potential payloads. Lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration for more information. Congressional members have received classified briefings about the events, but some have pressured President Biden to address the nation directly. It’s unclear if any more surveillance or intelligence technology was onboard, but officials want to reassure the public that there was no immediate military threat, though all four objects posed a hazard to civil aviation — the reasoning for the takedowns. The only certainty now is that more information will be available as recovery efforts can be made to capture and research the downed objects.