News ID: 112432
Publish Date : 14 February 2023 - 21:55

U.S. Still in Dark Over Mystery Flying Objects

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- The White House responded to growing and at times fevered speculation over the shooting down of unidentified aerial objects by saying the targets could be anything from commercial craft to espionage devices.
After mounting pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to explain the unprecedented situation that has seen an alleged Chinese spy balloon and three mystery objects shot down in North America in just over a week, officials appeared sure of only one thing: It’s not aliens.
“I just wanted to make sure we address this from the White House,” Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre said at the top of the first full-blown briefing since the latest shoot-down of an unidentified object Sunday.
“There have been questions and concerns about this but there is no -- again, no -- indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity.”
What actually is going on, however, remains unclear.
According to the U.S. government, the first of the four objects -- a sophisticated, high-altitude balloon shot down on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina -- was part of an ongoing, global “fleet” of Chinese espionage balloons.
China denied this, calling the huge balloon an errant weather research craft, and lashed out at Washington on Monday. Beijing said more than 10 U.S. balloons entered Chinese airspace “without any approval” over the last year.
As for another high-altitude balloon spotted in Latin America, China says that was a civilian flight test device.
The United States says the large Chinese balloon down on February 4 was obviously a spy craft and that the debris is currently being plucked from the Atlantic Ocean for analysis.
Crews have recovered important sensor and electronics parts from the balloon, as well as large parts of the structure, the U.S. military said Monday.
The other three unidentified objects -- shot down Friday over Alaska, Saturday over the Yukon in Canada, and Sunday over Lake Huron on the U.S.-Canadian border -- were much smaller, less sophisticated, and were flying lower than the Chinese balloon from earlier this month.
U.S. officials know little about them -- not even to whom they belonged.
“Countries, companies, research and academic organizations operate objects at these altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious at all, including scientific research,” Kirby said.
Whether they were spying also remains unknown.
“Even if we have no indications that any of these three objects were surveilling, we couldn’t rule that out,” he said.