US shot down objects because of possible surveillance capabilities
The White House on Monday said that the uncertainty of the surveillance capabilities of the three objects in U.S. airspace over the weekend led to President Biden’s orders for the military to shoot them all down.
“We don’t think — we don’t know for sure whether they had a surveillance aspect to them, but we can’t rule it out. So, there was a little bit, there was enough uncertainty there that again, out of an abundance of caution, doing the prudent thing, the president directed that they get taken down,” national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
He added that they were not manned, were being driven by the wind, and differentiated them from the Chinese spy balloon, saying in that situation, “we knew exactly what that thing was.”
“We knew what it was trying to do,” he added. “And we saw it … as it slowed down, sped up, maneuvered a little bit, trying to get a look at what we believe to be sensitive military sites.
He said that officials have not definitively assessed what the three objects are and have not assessed whether there was a direct threat to people on the ground, but reiterated that the military “acted out of an abundance of caution.”
Kirby noted that the three objects had fallen into remote areas and that it will take time to collect debris from them.
“We’re going to do everything we can to find them and that will tell us a lot,” Kirby said, adding that the U.S. still does not know who or what entity owns the three objects.
The three objects were shot down by the U.S. military roughly one week after the U.S. shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina. The first object was shot down on Friday off the northern coast of Alaska, the second was shot down on Saturday over frozen territory in northern Canada, and the third was shot down on Sunday over Lake Huron.
Kirby on Monday also said that the three objects were shot down because they posted a potential risk to civilian air traffic, reiterating what officials said over the weekend to explain the moves.
The object shot down on Sunday was about 20,000 feet high, and the objects shot down earlier in the weekend were both about 40,000 feet high, Kirby noted.
“The real risk to safety of flight was a problem,” he said.
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