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U.S. defense officials released a statement Saturday evening regarding the alleged unidentified objection detected over Montana that led to airspace being shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration.
U.S Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) noted in a statement that they “detected a radar anomaly and sent fighter aircraft to investigate.” However, the planes “did not identify any object to correlate to the radar hits. NORAD will continue to monitor the situation.”
The Daily Wire noted:
The statement came after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent a notice to airmen (NOTAM) late Saturday night warning that it had designated an area in the northern part of Montana as a “national defense airspace” and that anyone who entered the airspace would be intercepted.
The incident occurred after a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor shot down an unidentified object over Canada Saturday afternoon after gaining authorization from Canadian officials. The U.S. military shot down another unidentified object off the coast of Alaska Friday afternoon.
The incident comes after several spottings — and downings — of other objects seen in the skies over North America, including a suspected Chinese spy balloon last week off the coast of South Carolina. President Joe Biden was heavily criticized by Republicans for allowing the balloon to traverse the entire United States, hovering over some sensitive military installations in the process.
Eerily, a day after the balloon was initially spotted in Montana, an explosion was caught on camera above the city of billings, where the craft was first seen.
Local resident Dolly Mills-Moore said she “saw a jet go by so fast and then explosion in the sky.”
“Ok, so here’s what I just caught I few minutes ago out my window. I saw a jet go by so fast and then explosion in the sky. Holy crap! Billings MT,” she said.
Ok, so here’s what I just caught I few minutes ago out my window. I saw a jet go by so fast and then explosion in the sky. Holy crap! Billings MT. pic.twitter.com/swr8ERC6pf
— Dolly Mills-Moore (@MMtTreasures) February 4, 2023
Afterward, a local law enforcement official commented on the video, per KULR8:
Sheriff Mike Linder says the sheriff’s office has made contact with the woman who shared the video of the object over Billings late Friday afternoon.
Linder says while they believe the video is legitimate, it is difficult to tell what exactly is seen in the video. He goes on to say that there is no evidence that an aircraft went down or that there was an actual explosion over Billings.
The Sheriff says there have been no other reports from anyone to law enforcement who may have seen the incident. He says the Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate any additional leads or information.
City officials in Billings, however, said that they confirmed with the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services and Gov. Greg Gianfore’s (R) office that no explosions had occurred in, around, or across the state.
“They are aware of the video and it can not be substantiated,” a city official told the local outlet.
As for the Chinese balloon, Beijing has insisted that it drifted off course and could not be maneuvered, but the Pentagon refuted that.
“The balloon is maneuverable,” Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters last week. “It violated the law. We communicated that to China.”
He said that shooting down the balloon “was taken into consideration” earlier, but “because we assessed that currently, it does not pose a psychical or military risk to people on the ground, for now, we are continuing to monitor and review options.”
“What we’re not gonna do is get into an hour-by-hour location of the balloon,” the spokesman added when pressed about its location at the time.
“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry admitted at the time. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”
“The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure,” the spokesperson noted further.