False: The flying objects shot down by the U.S. were extraterrestrial in origin.

By: Laura Vitelli
February 17 2023

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
False: The flying objects shot down by the U.S. were extraterrestrial in origin.


The Verdict False

These claims were taken out of context while the situation was still developing. One was a Chinese balloon; the other two were unmanned objects.

Claim ID 8e196a5a


Reports of three "UFOs" being shot down over U.S. and Canadian air space following the takedown of a Chinese balloon on February 4 have sparked a number of claims about the unidentified objects' origins. 

Some have claimed that the objects confirm the conspiracy theory known as Project Blue Beam. Others have suggested that these "flying objects" are hoaxes by the White House and Pentagon to divert attention from a chemical spill that occurred earlier this month in East Palestine, Ohio. One post on Facebook claims that the unidentified objects resemble reports of what has been described as "tic tac" shaped UFOs by U.S. Navy officials. 

In Fact

There is, as of yet, no clear information concerning the composition or origin of the three unidentified objects – though official sources have definitively ruled out an extraterrestrial origin. 

The idea that the three unidentified objects are of alien origin was inadvertently amplified by Commander General Glen VanHerck of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, who appeared to decline to rule out the possibility of aliens in a statement made in a press briefing on Sunday, February 12. However, the following Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated, "there is no — again no indication — of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns." 

When it came to the Chinese balloon, the U.S. military "had a basis in intelligence to know definitively that its point of origin was the People's Republic of China," according to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs Melissa Dalton. There has been no clear evidence regarding the origins of the three objects shot down over the weekend. 

Part of this ambiguity is due to the fact that following the takedown of the Chinese balloon, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) made adjustments to its radar system to make it more sensitive to small objects passing through American airspace. In a White House press briefing on Monday, February 13, the U.S. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, stated that this "may at least partly explain the increase in the objects that have been detected."

Kirby also clarified that the objects were unmanned and that no threats or communication signals were detected. "We have no specific reason to suspect that they were conducting surveillance of any kind." Kirby also stated that "[The objects] did not appear to have any self-propulsion" and that "the likely hypothesis is that they were being moved by the prevailing winds." In a statement made on Tuesday, Kirby told reporters, "The intelligence community is considering as a leading explanation that these could just be balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose." 

The Verdict

The claims that the unidentified objects that were shot down by the U.S. armed forces over the weekend are UFOs are extrapolations from tentative statements made by a single U.S. official while the situation was still developing. More recent statements from U.S. government officials state that there is no indication of extraterrestrial activity in the recent takedowns. 

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before