By Yashwant Raj
Washington, Feb 14 (IANS): The US does not quite know what it has shot off the skies in the last three instances, but officials assured Americans on Monday that they were not alien airships.
The first object downed was a Chinese spy balloon on February 4. But officials have acknowledged they know little or nothing about the last three objects - two by the US acting alone and one in a joint operation with bordering Canada; not their origin, owner or purpose.
"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," Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said to reporters.
She added: "Again, there is no indication of aliens or (extra)terrestrial activity with these recent takedowns. 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."
US fighter aircraft blew up an airborne object over Alaska on Friday, then one over Canada on Saturday and a third over Michigan state on Sunday. All of them came in the highly charged environment following the downing of the Chinese spy balloon on February 4.
The Chinese balloon was big, with a payload the size of three school buses. And its origin and ownership became clear overnight as a contrite Beijing owned it up and said it was a civilian use airship engaged in meteorological studies; and that it had strayed off course into the US.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the three airborne objects downed since. And that has kicked off intense speculation and all kinds of conspiracy theories, a lot of whom point to aliens and extraterrestrial beings, feeding off a thriving subculture around UFOs, or UAPs as they are called now, short for Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon.
A top US military commander put these talks on steroid Sunday. "I'll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out," said General Glen VanHerck, Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD as a new conference on Sunday, when asked if the US military was ruling out aliens and extraterrestrial beings as it had got nowhere with other possibilities.
"I haven't ruled out anything. At this point, we continue to assess every threat or potential threats unknown that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it," he added.
The US was not any wiser the day after about the three aerial objects it has shot off the skies. John Kirby, the US national security council spokesperson, conveyed the befuddlement at the same White House briefing, saying that acea range of entities -- including countries, companies, research and academic organizations -- operate objects at these altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious at all, including scientific research".
Kirby said the three objects were much smaller than the Chinese balloons and were flying at much lower altitudes - 40,000 feet compared to the 60,000 feet of the Chinese balloon.