07:45 GMT26 February 2020
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    Authorities across multiple counties in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Kansas have yet to provide a reasonable explanation about the nature and origin of the mystery drones spotted flying in formation over wide swathes of their states since observations began to be reported last month.

    The unusual drones seen and heard buzzing around in remote areas of the US Midwest and Rocky Mountain region may be monitoring the hundreds of nuclear silos dotting the area, journalists and authors Corey Hutchins and David Axe speculate.

    In a piece for the Daily Beast, the observers pointed out that some of the locations where the drones have been spotted border on Wyoming’s F.E. Warren Air Force Base, a sprawling military facility known to house the 90th Missile Wing and some 200 Minuteman nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles in underground silos.

    Each Minuteman missile packs “enough firepower to wipe out several cities,” Hutchins and Axe stressed.

    The question that remains is whether the mystery drones, the sightings of which began in mid-December, are being used by the military itself, or are an attempt to breach the sensitive territories’ defences.

    The US Army, Air Force and Navy are all known to operate thousands of drones of various sizes and modifications, from the small air-plane sized $220 million Global Hawk spy drones to smaller radio-controlled scout UAVs. The US Air Force is also known to have developed small drones as a countermeasure to enemy drones, and the F.E. Warren Air Base engages in its own anti-drone defence training.

    Earlier this month, the Colorado Springs Gazette pointed out that a Federal Aviation Administration map of areas where drones have been spotted was filled with dots marking restricted airspace over missile silos where drone flights are explicitly forbidden.

    Indeed, media-compiled maps of drone sightings seem to at least partially line up with publicly known Minutemen launch sites in northern Colorado, western Nebraska and southeastern Wyoming.

    • CBS Evening News Map of mystery drone sightings.
      © Photo : Screenshot / CBS Evening News
    • Minuteman missile launch sites, red marking current sites, black marking sites which have been closed down. Map courtesy of the US National Parks Service.
      © Photo : US National Parks Service
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    © Photo : Screenshot / CBS Evening News
    CBS Evening News Map of mystery drone sightings.

    That said, the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, which is responsible for the US’s nuclear deterrent, maintains ignorance of the situation, with a spokesperson telling the DB that the drones spotted in Colorado and Nebraska did not originate from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, and adding that while the Air Force was equipped with counterdrone measures, it “cannot speak to specifics due to operational security.”

    “F.E. Warren is working with the FAA, the FBI and state and local authorities to determine the origins and operators,” the spokesperson added.

    For now, local police remain hopeful that vigilant citizens might eventually help them track the drones back to their operators, if they’re not military operated, that is.

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