Defense secretary cites ‘route’ of flying objects in US take down
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cited the flight pattern of the three objects that were shot down over the U.S. and Canada in the last few days as one reason the Biden administration decided to down them.
“We don’t know if they were actually collecting intelligence, but because of the route that they took, out of an abundance of caution, we want to make sure that we have the ability to examine what these things are and potentially what they were doing,” Austin told reporters after landing in Brussels on Monday.
Austin’s comments did little to answer many of the other questions from lawmakers and the public, such as where the objects came from, what they were doing in U.S. airspace and what they had on board.
The U.S. and Canada shot down three unidentified objects over Alaska, Lake Huron and Canadian territory in the last few days. The action comes after the U.S. shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina earlier this month.
But Austin reiterated the U.S. is not sure what the latest objects were, saying only they are different from the suspected spy balloon that was grounded earlier this month. He said they could have nefarious purposes and said the U.S. and Canada were engaging in recovery efforts to try to determine what the objects were.
“The three objects taken down this weekend are very different from what we were talking about last week,” Austin said. “We knew exactly what that was — a PRC [People’s Republic of China] surveillance balloon.”
Austin added that no debris from the latest three objects that were shot down have been recovered yet. The object in Alaska landed on sea ice, and weather has delayed the recovery time. The object downed over Canada landed in a “very remote” part of Yukon territory.
Austin also said that the objects did not pose a military threat to the U.S.
Austin’s comments come as Republicans have been critical of the Biden administration for its communication of the incidents, calling on the president to reveal more about the objects to the public.
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