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U.S. Downs Flying Objects

WATERY END U.S. Navy sailors pull a downed Chinese spy balloon from the waters off South Carolina on February 5. The balloon (inset) drifted toward the sea after being shot down by a U.S. fighter jet. U.S NAVY/AP; INSET : EYEPRESS NEWS/SHUTTERSTOCK

United States fighter jets shot down three flying objects, over Alaska, Canada, and Michigan, between February 10 and 12. Officials are trying to identify the objects. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been on heightened alert since earlier in the month, when jets downed a Chinese spy balloon near South Carolina. The balloon had traveled across U.S. airspace.

U.S. officials say the three recent objects were not a security threat. They could have come from China or from other countries. It’s not clear that there are more of these objects than usual: It might be that NORAD has been watching the skies more closely. That “may at least partly explain the increase in objects that we’ve detected over the past week,” Melissa Dalton says. She’s assistant secretary of defense for the homeland defense department.

The spy balloon shot down on February 4 was likely capable of listening in on official U.S. communications. China claims the craft was a weather balloon. It was about the size of three school buses. The other objects were smaller, and differently shaped. They flew much lower. These events have increased tensions between the U.S. and China.

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