In the third such incident in three days, a US fighter plane on Sunday shot down an unidentified flying object (UFO) over Lake Huron in Michigan state.
Earlier, a US fighter shot down a UFO over Alaska and another UFO was shot down over North-western Canada by a US fighter in a joint US-Canada operation.
The unprecedented appearances and shoot-downs of UFOs have driven the security officials in North America to the edge. The origin and nature of these UFOs is shrouded in mystery as scarce details are available in public domain.
Moreover, the US general in-charge of North America on Sunday refused to rule out the possibility of these UFOs being extraterrestrial —alien— origin.
Here we explain how these UFO shoot-downs have so far played out, what's known about these UFOs, and what does the US general's comment on alien origin mean.
3 UFOs downed in 3 days, unprecedented developments
In the past three days, three UFOs have been shot down over North America by the United States Air Force. Pentagon officials have called it unprecedented.
US President Joe Biden is in the loop and orders to shoot down the aircraft have come directly from him. He has also held consulation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the United States and Canada jointly secure the North American airspace through their joint command called North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The first UFO was shot down over Alaska on Friday by a US F-22 fighter. It was described as cylindrical in shape. It's not yet known if the fallen remains have been recovered.
The second UFO was shot down over Yukon region of North-western Canada on Saturday by a US F-22 fighter. It was also described as cylindrical in shape. It's not yet known if the fallen remains have been recovered.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) on Saturday said NORAD first detected the second UFO on Friday over Alaska. The NORAD tracked the object as it entered Canada. The DoD said Biden and Trudeau held consultation and authorised its shoot-down. As a result, US and Canadian planes were deployed and subsequently a US F-22 shot down the UFO.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are going to investigate the downed objects.
The third UFO was shot down over Lake Huron in Michigan state of the United State by a US F-16 fighter. The DoD said this UFO is likely the one that was spotted by radars over Montana on Saturday but could not be intercepted by fighters.
On Saturday, there was one case of a 'false alarm' over the US state of Montana. The NORAD observed suspicious activity over Montana on radars and the US government restricted flight activity in the region and deployed fighters. However, nothing was found. Subsequently, the airspace was opened.
What's known about the three downed UFOs?
In short, barely anything is known about the three downed UFOs — at least publicly. The details released by US and Canadian governments are scarce.
The origin and nature of the UFOs is not yet known. The status of the search and recovery operation of their remains is also not known.
However, it's known that the first two UFOs were cylindrical in shape. It's also known that the second UFO entered Canada from Alaska — where the first UFO was shot down on Friday.
Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand has said the second UFO downed in Canada was at the height of 40-50,000 feet and was "small, cylindrical" in shape.
The third UFO shot down on Sunday has been described as octagonal in shape, as per Reuters.
The Associated Press reported that the United States and Canada cooperated to shoot down the UFO over Lake Huron —which extends into Canada— on Sunday. The AP reported an official as saying that the UFO was flying at a height of 20,000 feet — lower than the previous UFOs which were flying at 40-50,000 feet.
The AP reported that while the nature of the first two UFOs is still unknown, they were believed to have payloads.
"Both were believed to have a payload, either attached or suspended from them, according to the officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation...The three objects were much smaller in size, different in appearance and flew at lower altitudes than the suspected spy balloon," reported AP.
The third UFO was also likely the same spotted over Montana a day before but that could not be confired, said US officials.
The third UFO did not have an apparent payload, reported AP. It reported, "According to a senior administration official, the object was octagonal, with strings hanging off, but had no discernable payload."
Can't rule out UFOs having alien origin: Top general
The mystery around UFOs and tense airspace conditions over North America were further stoked by US Northern Command and NORAD Commander General Glen VanHerck's saying that he would not rule out extraterrestrial —alien— origin of these UFOs.
Notably, though the popular imagination connects the term UFO with aliens, the UFO means any airborne objects that cannot be immediately identified.
VanHerck said he would not rule out any explanation for UFOs, including extraterrestrial —alien— origin.
"I'll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven't ruled out anything. At this point we continue to assess every threat or potential threat, unknown, that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it," said VanHerck when asked about a possible alien-origin of these UFOs, as per Reuters.
Notably, though the unidentified objects in the skies are commonly called UFOs, the US government now formally uses the term unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) for such objects.
Mysterious reports about Alaska UFO
Amid scarce information on the downed UFOs and the US military not ruling out alien-origin, reports have come attributing strange behaviour to the second UFO shot down in Alaska. US pilots have given differing accounts of the objects downed over Alaska on Friday.
The CNN reported, "Pilots gave different accounts of what they observed after coming near the object, a source briefed on the intelligence told CNN; some pilots said it 'interfered with their sensors', but other pilots said they didn’t experience that."
ABC News reported that the pilots did not see any propulsion on the object over Alaska. In simple terms, a propulsion system is a machine that produces thrust to push the aircraft around.
"ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz first reported that when fighters were scrambled, the pilots did visuals, got images and said there was no sign the object had propulsion. It was described as 'cylindrical and silver-ish gray' and seemed to be floating, a US official said," reported ABC News.
Why does all of this matter?
Besides the foremost reason that shooting down of three UFOs in peacetime within domestic North American airspace is simply unprecedented, there is important background to the ongoing developments.
Firstly, the three UFOs were sighed and shot down after the Chinese spy balloon episode that raised the US-China tensions and raised the security concerns and readiness in the United States.
Secondly, the discourse on UFO —now formally called unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP)— has sharpened in recent months. A US government report released last month showed there are 510 UAP sightings, 171 of which are still unexplained.
The UAP activity has significantly increased in the past two years, according to CNN that cited the report.
The CNN reported, "The US government has received over 350 new reports of what the US government terms “unidentified aerial phenomenon,” commonly known as UFOs, since March of 2021 – roughly half of which are so far unexplained."
Some of the famous UAP incidents involve US figher pilots tracking "tic tac" UFOs in 2014. They are named so as they appeared to be like tic tac pills. There is also the case of a mysterious orb flying over Iraq.
However, there is at least one indication that the current UFO episode might not be related to aliens, according to journalist and historian Garrett M Graff.
Graff noted on Twitter that the association of FBI with the investigation suggests that the US government believes there is no alien or extraterrestrial link of the downed objects.
"The Pentagon statements say the FBI is involved in the Canadian shootdown investigation — that implies a Earthly counterintelligence mission. The FBI has historically NOT been involved in extraterrestrial UFO investigations...the FBI’s involvement pretty clearly hints that the US/Canada/NORAD knows or believes these UFOs to be nation-state devices. So don’t worry about aliens yet," said Graff, the author or upcoming book UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government's Search for Alien Life Here―and Out There.
However, experts have criticsed President Biden's role in the entire episode. Communications strategist Bryan Bender noted on Twitter that Biden needs to address the nation to assure them lest panic sets in.
He wrote, "I can’t help but ask: at this stage where is the president? This is unprecedented. Four objects in nine days shot down for violating North American airspace. We need to hear from President of the United States, if for nothing else to set the nation at ease and tamp down conspiracies."
Graff also highlighted that the Biden White House is fucntioning as if everything is usual, which is not the case. The ongoing developments are unprecedented.
Sharing a tweet by Biden, Graph said, "It’s wild that the White House is tweeting random talking points while, you know, the military is regularly shooting down UFOs in US airspace."