The White Home defends the capturing down of air objects regardless of a information hole
WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday defended President Joe Biden’s decision to shoot down three low-flying air objects over U.S. and Canadian airspace in the past three days, but said it has not yet determined exactly what the objects are and to whom they belonged or their purpose.
“We have not been able to make a definitive assessment of what these recent objects are,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said at a White House briefing.
“And while we have no specific reason to believe they’re conducting any sort of surveillance, we can’t rule out the possibility,” Kirby added.
Each of the three boats was the size of a small car and drifted on the prevailing winds.
The first of the three planes was destroyed in US airspace over Alaskan waters on Friday. It was cylindrical and hovered at about 40,000 feet, Kirby said, posing a threat to civilian aircraft.
On Saturday, the United States and Canada coordinated the use of American military jets to shoot down a second object, this time overland in Canada’s remote Yukon.
This vehicle is similar in size, shape and altitude to the one shot down Friday, Kirby said.
The third object was octagonal and flew lower, about 20,000 feet. This object was shot down over Lake Huron on the US-Canada border on Sunday.
Kirby said the sharp increase in the number of objects shot down in recent days was partly due to increased radar sensitivity introduced after the discovery of a massive Chinese spy balloon in late January.
This balloon was 200 feet high and carried a payload of surveillance equipment. Defense officials chose to let it hover over the continental US for a week before being shot down over South Carolina waters on February 4.
“One of the reasons we see more [aerial objects]”That’s because we’re looking for more,” Kirby said Monday, taking pains not to call the three newest objects “balloons.”
“We have to separate [the three recent objects] from the Chinese spy balloon,” he said. In the spy balloon situation, “we knew what it was, we knew where it was going, we knew what it was doing.” There are more questions this time, he said.
“We know that [Chinese] Surveillance balloons have crossed dozens of countries on multiple continents around the world, including some of our closest allies and partners,” Kirby said.
“We also know that a number of organizations, including countries, corporations, research and academic organizations, operate objects at these altitudes for purposes that are not at all nefarious, including scientific research,” he said.
Efforts to recover debris from the recent incidents have so far been hampered by remote terrain and freezing temperatures both on land and in the deep waters of Lake Huron and the Arctic Ocean.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that American and Canadian teams “recovered no debris” after the three kills over the weekend. “We don’t know if they actually collected information,” he told reporters shortly after landing in Brussels.
In addition to immediately recovering and forensically examining the objects themselves, the Biden administration took steps Monday to address the broader implications of these objects for U.S. defense and foreign policy.
A new interagency task force has been assembled to study the broader implications of the “detection, analysis and disposal of unidentified airborne objects that pose either safety or security risks,” Kirby told reporters at the White House.
The Chinese government has denied any involvement in the three recent floating objects.
And while Beijing admitted that the surveillance balloon launched on February 4 was indeed Chinese, it insisted the high-tech plane was merely a misguided weather balloon that had gone off course.
High-altitude weather balloons have a maximum diameter of about 20 feet, according to the National Weather Service. According to a Defense Ministry official, the Chinese surveillance balloon was about 10 times larger.
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