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Shot-down objects are not extraterrestrial, US officials say

John Kirby
Posted at 12:25 PM, Feb 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-13 14:30:09-05

Over the weekend, the U.S. military shot down three objects moving at high altitudes over the U.S. and Canada, prompting questions about where these objects came from and what they’re used for.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday the objects were not extraterrestrial despite officials saying earlier that nothing could be ruled out.

The Pentagon has not disclosed what type of objects were shot down. However, the White House said they did not pose a threat to anyone on the ground.

White House coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said the three objects appeared vastly different than the balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.

Kirby said the object shot down on Feb. 4 was about the size of three school buses and had maneuverability capability as China has used such craft for surveillance. The objects shot down this weekend were smaller, not believed to have any communication capabilities, and did not appear to have any ability to maneuver.

Kirby said that China has been using high-altitude objects to conduct surveillance over the U.S. since the Trump administration, but those flyovers were not detected.

Pentagon officials allowed the balloon believed to belong to China to traverse over U.S. airspace before the military shot it down on Feb. 4. It was first spotted days earlier over Montana.

Officials said shooting down the balloon posed too much of a threat to those on the ground.

The latest three objects were either shot down over water or in remote regions. The first of the objects were shot down off the northern Alaska coast on Friday. The second object was shot down over remote sections of Canada.

An object shot down Sunday was downed over Lake Huron.

Kirby said the objects were shot down because their respective altitudes posed a threat to civilian aircraft.

Kirby said crews were still working to recover the three latest objects. He said the first two objects were likely in remote sections near the Arctic, while the latest object presumably sits at the bottom of Lake Huron.

Objects flying at high altitudes and low speeds, Kirby said, could provide better, higher fidelity images and can linger over a location for a longer period of time than a spy satellite. These sorts of objects, Kirby said, have limited additive surveillance capabilities.

Although the latest three objects are not believed to be used for surveillance purposes, Kirby said it could not be ruled out.