After weeks of questions about a Chinese spy balloon and a series of unidentified objects spotted flying in or near American airspace, the answers are coming into focus.
Here’s what we know.
Chinese spy balloon recovered
The military has completed the recovery of the Chinese spy balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina, the U.S. Northern Command said in a statement.
The Navy found and retrieved the balloon’s remnants, and are handing over the debris to the FBI. Counterintelligence experts will examine what’s left of the balloon at the FBI’s lab in Virginia.
VP Harris: Chinese spy balloon ‘not helpful,’ but relationship won’t change
In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Vice President Kamala Harris affirmed that the Chinese spy balloon was shot down because officials were “confident” it was used by China to “spy on the American people.”
Harris said that the government’s strategy for taking down the balloon factored in risk of harming American civilians and the ability to preserve the balloon to “investigate from a forensic perspective.”
On the effects of the balloon on U.S.-China relations, Harris said that the Biden administration intends to maintain its view of the two nations’ relationship — that competition is welcome, but “conflict and confrontation” is not.
“That (relationship) is not going to change, but surely and certainly, that balloon was not helpful, which is why we shot it down,” Harris said. “But our relationship and our policy towards China remains what it has been.”
Alaska UFO could belong to Illinois amateur balloonists: report
An amateur balloonists club based in Illinois says one of its balloons last reported its location over Alaska on Saturday before going “missing in action” — the same day an unidentified object was shot down by the U.S. military in the same area.
“Pico Balloon K9YO last reported on February 11th at 00:48 zulu near Hagemeister Island after 123 days and 18 hours of flight,” reads a Feb. 14 blog post by the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB).
The group did not connect the two incidents in its post. Aviation Week first reported a possible connection.
NIBBB did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
Biden: Other mysterious flying objects shot down likely not spy balloons
President Joe Biden said Thursday that three unidentified flying objects shot down last weekend over North American airspace were “most likely” balloons tied to private companies or research institutions, not part of China’s surveillance spy balloon operation.
Biden, delivering his first public address on the mysterious objects amid bipartisan pressure from lawmakers demanding more information, said there’s “no evidence” that more flying objects are in the sky than usual.
He said the intelligence community is still assessing objects that were shot down over Alaska, Canada’s Yukon Territory and Lake Huron. “Nothing right now,” he said, suggests the objects are tied to China’s spy balloon program, even though they were shot down about a week after the U.S. shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the Atlantic coast.
Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook, Joey Garrison, Michael Collins
Story Credit: usatoday.com