The White House has stated that it decided to shoot down three objects this past weekend that were flying over North American airspace “out of an abundance of caution.”
The objects were shot down in the “best interests” of the American people because they presented a threat to commercial flights, according to spokesperson John Kirby.
Since the recent intrusion of a suspected spy balloon from China, the US is scrutinizing its airspace more carefully.
Beijing claims that the United States is sending its own balloons above China.
China’s foreign ministry reported on Monday that the US had violated its airspace with balloons more than ten times in the previous year.
The US frequently violates other nations’ airspace, according to spokeswoman Wang Wenbin, who was speaking to reporters.
Mr. Kirby refuted the charge in remarks made from the White House: “No surveillance balloons are being flown over China by us. As far as I know, we are the only aircraft entering Chinese airspace.” After traveling for days over the US mainland, a high-altitude balloon was brought to a stop on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina.
Chinese officials denied the thing was used for spying and claimed it was a weather monitoring device that had gone awry. US officials claimed it had Chinese origins and was used to keep an eye on critical military facilities.
Since that initial incident, American fighter jets have shot down three additional high-altitude objects in as many days, over Alaska, the Canadian region of Yukon, and Michigan. The administration is under pressure to identify the objects.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refuted a claim made by a Pentagon spokeswoman on Sunday that the US has not completely ruled out the possibility that the objects were extraterrestrial in origin.
With these new takedowns, she claimed that there was “no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activities.” It is crucial for us to express that from here, and I wanted to make sure the American people knew that.
Mr. Kirby, the National Security Council spokesperson for the White House, attended the briefing with Ms. Jean-Pierre. The three items that were shot down over the weekend and the purported Chinese surveillance balloon differed, he claimed.
Despite not posing “any immediate threat to persons on the ground,” the latter were destroyed “to preserve our security, our interests, and flight safety.”
There are currently efforts underway to gather debris from the locations where the objects fell, but Mr. Kirby pointed out that the objects in Canada and Alaska fell in remote terrain and would be challenging to locate in winter weather, while the object in Michigan, he said, lay in the deep waters of Lake Huron.
He claimed that although authorities have not yet been able to “definitively analyze” these objects, they have not ruled out the potential that they were carrying out surveillance.
He claimed that Beijing was running a “balloon program for intelligence collecting” with connections to the Chinese military but which went undetected under the Trump administration.
“It was discovered. We closely examined it to understand as much as we could, and we tracked it “he stated.
The search area in the Yukon Territory is around 3,000 sq km (1,870 sq miles), according to the Canadian federal police, who also noted that experts were analyzing wind predictions from Sunday to attempt and focus the search region.
The wreckage was likely found in “rugged mountain terrain with a very high amount of snowpack,” according to Sean McGillis, spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, making the search in the Yukon “treacherous.”
Because of their isolated locations, Mr. McGillis continued, it was possible that the fragments from the Lake Huron and Yukon accidents might never be found.
Major-General Paul Prévost of the Canadian Armed Forces agreed that the first balloon was different from the three most recent items to be shot down.
He claimed that the Lake Huron object was “a suspected balloon” and that all three objects seemed to be “lighter than air” vehicles.
The military head further stated that anyone in the public who finds debris should immediately inform the police.