US military completes balloon recovery efforts

US military completes balloon recovery efforts

The US has ceased recovering remnants of the large balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina, US officials said on Friday.

Analysis of the debris so far supports the hypothesis that it was a Chinese spy balloon.

Officials said the US Navy, Coast Guard and FBI personnel are believed to have collected all of the balloon debris off the ocean floor, which included key equipment that could reveal what information it was able to monitor and collect.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said a significant amount of debris had been recovered, including “electronics and optics”. He declined to say what, if anything, the US has learnt from the wreckage so far.

The announcement caps three weeks in which US fighter jets shot down four airborne objects — the large Chinese balloon on February 4 and three smaller objects about a week later over Canada, Alaska and Lake Huron.

Earlier on Friday, the White House said it could not confirm whether one of the three unidentified aerial objects shot down over North America last week was a low-cost hobby balloon.

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, a hobby club, said one of its balloons was “missing in action” in a remote part of south-western Alaska.

Transmissions from the balloon stopped at about the same time and location as where a US F-22 shot down one of three floating objects that have captured national attention this month.

The group launches small “pico balloons”, which are widely available for under $100 and carry basic weather sensors, and plots their positions as they blow around the globe at high altitudes.

“We just can’t confirm those reports or what the remains of that balloon might actually end up being,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, noting that no wreckage from the downed object had been recovered.

“So it’s very difficult, until you can get your hands on something, to be able to tell.”

The US military adjusted its radar sensitivities after a Chinese “spy balloon” slipped into US airspace and traversed the country.

In the days after it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina, the Pentagon spotted three other “objects” and destroyed them.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden directed National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to lead an inter-agency team to establish “sharper rules” to track, monitor and possibly shoot down unknown aerial objects.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Would you like to receive notifications on latest updates? No Yes