The Pentagon has refused to rule out the possibility that the unidentified objects that have been shot out of the sky in the last week could be linked to aliens.
Last night US President Joe Biden ordered pilots to shoot down an ‘unidentified object’ over Lake Huron in north America.
US Air Force General Glen VanHerck said experts were exploring all avenues – including the possibility the three most recent objects could be linked to extra-terrestrials.
He said: ‘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.’
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace last night said the UK Government will be holding a security review after the fourth ‘balloon’ believed to be linked to China was spotted in the US.
Mr Wallace said the latest intelligence breach is a sign of how the ‘global threat picture is changing for the worse.’
According to the Telegraph the review will be used to help decide whether any changes need to be made to the surveillance of British airspace.
MPs have already warned that balloons may have crossed over the UK, a possibility the Ministry of Defence has refused to rule out.
It comes amid increasing fears over the threat from China, with four objects in US airpace being downed in just eight days.
Part of the reason for the repeated shootdowns is a ‘heightened alert’ following a spy balloon from China that emerged over US airspace in late January.
Since then, fighter jets last week also shot down objects over Canada and Alaska.
On Sunday night, Mr Wallace said: ‘The UK and her allies will review what these airspace intrusions mean for our security. This development is another sign of how the global threat picture is changing for the worse.’
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is under mounting pressure to take a harder line on China. On Friday, Liz Truss is set to warn of the threat from Beijing in her first public speech since quitting Downing Street.
Last week, the White House said Chinese balloons had been spotted over five continents – but did not reveal where.
US authorities have made clear that they constantly monitor for unknown radar blips, and it is not unusual to shut down airspace as a precaution to evaluate them.
But the unusually assertive response was raising questions about whether such use of force was warranted, particularly as administration officials said the objects were not of great national security concern and the downings were just out of caution.
Mr VanHerck said the US adjusted its radar so it could track slower objects.
He said: ‘With some adjustments, we’ve been able to get a better categorisation of radar tracks now,’ he said, ‘and that’s why I think you’re seeing these, plus there’s a heightened alert to look for this information.’
He added: ‘I believe this is the first time within United States or American airspace that Norad or United States Northern Command has taken kinetic action against an airborne object.’
The Pentagon officials said they were still trying to determine what exactly the objects were and said they had considered using the jets’ guns instead of missiles, but it proved to be too difficult.
They drew a strong distinction between the three shot down over this weekend and the balloon from China.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tweeted that airmen in the 148th Fighter Wing, an Air National Guard fighter unit in Duluth, shot down the object over Lake Huron.
The air defence activity began in late January, when a white orb the officials said was from China appeared over the US and hovered above the nation for days before fighter jets downed it off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
That event played out over livestream. Many Americans have been captivated by the drama playing out in the skies as fighter jets scramble to shoot down objects.
The latest brought down was first detected on Saturday evening over Montana, but it was initially thought to be an anomaly.
Radar picked it up again on Sunday hovering over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it was going over Lake Huron, Pentagon officials said.
US and Canadian authorities had restricted some airspace over the lake earlier on Sunday as planes were scrambled to intercept and try to identify the object.
According to a senior administration official, the object was octagonal, with strings hanging off, but had no discernible payload.
It was flying low at about 20,000 feet, said the official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
The cases have increased diplomatic tensions between the United States and China, raised questions about the extent of Beijing’s American surveillance, and prompted days of criticism from Republican lawmakers about the administration’s response.
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