US officials have stated that the three unidentified flying objects (UFOs) that were shot down over the weekend were not linked to China’s spy balloon program, according to a National Security Council spokesperson.
“Our initial assessments here, based on talking to civil authorities in the intelligence community, is that we don’t see anything that points right now to these being part of the PRC spying program or, in fact, intelligence collection against the United States of any kind,” said John Kirby.
Although the remnants of the objects are yet to be retrieved, more information about their origins and purpose is expected to be gathered once the debris is collected.
The US Air Force shot down the three objects over Alaska, northwestern Canada and Lake Huron over the weekend.
Intelligence officials are still uncertain about what the objects were, but they are confident that they did not belong to the US government.
Kirby said, “In checking with the FAA, they do not appear to have been operated by the US government, so we’re pretty comfortable ruling out that they were US government objects.”
The recent sightings of UFOs came after the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) officials altered their radar settings to be more sensitive to objects at high altitudes.
This move was in response to the discovery of China deploying a surveillance balloon in airspace above Alaska on Jan. 28. President Biden allowed the balloon to cross the US for a week, passing over sensitive military sites along the way, before ordering it to be shot down on Feb. 4.
Unlike the spy balloon, the three UFOs were not maneuverable, meaning they could not change direction and moved largely at the whim of the wind. Conversely, the spy balloon could move “left, right, slow down, speed up” and “loiter” over targets to collect more information, Kirby said Monday.
Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, stated that if the objects were not Chinese spy balloons, they could have been any number of different craft used for benign research and monitoring. “A range of entities — including countries, companies, research organizations — operate objects at these altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious, including legitimate research,” she said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no private companies or nations had come forward to claim any of the recently downed objects. Kirby stated, “The intelligence community is going to keep looking at this, and certainly they will not dismiss as a possibility that these could be balloons that were simply tied to commercial or research entities and therefore benign. That very well could be or could emerge as a leading explanation here.”
Intelligence officials gave senators a closed briefing on the mysterious objects Tuesday morning. After its conclusion, lawmakers from both parties reiterated calls for Biden to provide more detail about the shoot-downs. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said, “President Biden needs to get up in front of the people of the United States and tell them what he knows and let’s get this thing over with.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) agreed, saying “the American people need and deserve to know more.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) suggested that Biden ordered the latest three shoot-downs because he was stung by attacks on his handling of the larger Chinese spy balloon. “I think he didn’t want to suffer that criticism again,” Cotton said of the president.
Aside from a brief mention of downing the Chinese spy balloon during his State of the Union address on Feb. 7, Biden has not spoken publicly about any of the mysterious incidents.