White House says China has military-linked high-altitude balloon program | US News

The White House has determined that China has a “high-altitude balloon program” for intelligence gathering.

This comes amid escalating tensions between the US and China US shoots down fourth unidentified plane Objects over North American airspace.

It was shot down at 2:42 p.m. local time Sunday over Lake Huron, Michigan, on the orders of President Joe Biden, after objects were shot down in Alaska and Canada on Friday and Saturday.

John Kirby, the National Security Council’s strategic communications coordinator, said Monday that the United States was still working to “better understand” foreign intelligence collection efforts.

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Momentary ‘spy balloon’ shot down off Carolina coast

“We were able to determine that China has an intelligence high-altitude balloon program related to the People’s Liberation Army,” he told a news conference.

Balloons offer a “limited capability,” he said, but it could become “more valuable to them” in the future as the technology improves.

Mr Kirby said that because the US could not “clearly” determine what the risks from the balloon were, they responded out of “extreme caution”.

Mr Kirby said the objects were unmanned and there was no indication they had maneuvering or propulsion capabilities.

He added: “We did assess that they are significantly lower than China’s high-altitude balloons and do pose a threat to civilian commercial air traffic.

“While we have no specific reason to suspect that any children were being monitored, we cannot rule out that possibility.”

The mission was “conducted successfully and safely,” he said.

Efforts are underway to recover what remains of the objects to learn what they are, but the objects in Alaska and Canada are in remote areas, making them harder to find.

Mr Kirby said NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) was continuing to monitor the situation outside of recovery operations.

“No sign of aliens”

White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre also addressed the media at the press conference, emphasizing that the American people should hear “no signs of aliens” from the White House.

“I love the ET movie, but I just want to leave it there,” she joked to reporters gathered for the briefing.

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“No sign of aliens”

read more:
China claims US balloons have flown over its airspace ‘more than 10 times’ in past year

U.S. Raises State of Alert for Flying Objects
Spy balloons and flying objects: A timeline of objects and places shot down by fighter jets

Elsewhere, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in Brussels that the “safety and security” of the American people was President Joe Biden’s “number one priority.”

“I want to reassure the Americans that these objects do not pose a military threat to anyone on the ground. However, they do pose a threat to civil aviation and may pose an intelligence gathering threat. We will bottom it out,” he said.

He added that the U.S. could not “definitely assess what these closest objects were.”

“very serious situation”

Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the incursion into North American airspace was a “very serious situation” that was being taken seriously.

He said the issue would be part of the discussion when he meets with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Mr. Trudeau said the search and recovery of objects shot down over the Yukon by US fighter jets were underway in accordance with his order on Saturday, but the weather had posed some challenges in searching for the debris.

“Obviously there’s some pattern there, and the fact that we’ve seen that to a large extent over the past week has sparked interest and scrutiny,” he said.

ET jokes aside, this is easy to upgrade

There was a joke about aliens at the White House podium today.

But beyond the confusion, and even the entertainment, there is a very serious aspect to these UFO takedowns.

We know that one of the four “objects” is Chinese. The balloon that was shot down in South Carolina was dubbed a “weather balloon” by Beijing. It is possible, even probable, that others are also Chinese; China trying to obtain intelligence or simply to test the red lines of the United States.

This is where the problem lies. The Chinese want a chance to retaliate, at least for the shooting down of their “weather balloon” last weekend. As you can see this is easy to upgrade. The Americans routinely use reconnaissance planes in the Pacific.

At the White House, an official said repeatedly: “There are no American surveillance planes in Chinese airspace.” But he did not answer questions he was asked.Are there any spy planes claiming to be in US airspace? [use emphasis] by the Chinese?

China claims a large swath of sea off its southern coast — within what Beijing calls the “nine-dash line,” extending into Philippine and Malaysian waters.

If U.S. aerial reconnaissance takes place over the region or over Taiwan, also known by China as a “rebellious province,” the risk of them being shot down may now be greatly increased. The ultimate concern is that manned aircraft are shot down by one side or the other as part of an escalation or miscalculation.

What we know so far about flying objects:

  • On February 4, the first object described by U.S. officials as a suspected Chinese “spy” balloon was shot down off the coast of the Carolinas;
  • On February 10, NORAD spotted and shot down a second object described as “about the size of a small car” near Alaska;
  • Just a day later, on February 11, a third object, also unidentified, was tracked into U.S. airspace over Alaska before drifting over Canada and shot down;
  • On Sunday, U.S. officials confirmed that fighter jets shot down another unidentified object over Lake Huron, near the U.S.-Canada border near Michigan.
  • A U.S. F-16 jet fired a missile at the latest object at an altitude of about 20,000 feet amid concerns its altitude and flight path could endanger civilian aircraft;
  • A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the latest object as having an “octagonal structure with dangling ropes but no discernible payload”;
  • Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said teams were looking for the object that was shot down over Canada.

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