The US Navy has completed a search for more remains of the balloon shot down by a US fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina on February 4. This was announced by the command staff Northern Command (Northcom). The debris found would now be evaluated by the FBI’s counterintelligence office.
“It’s a significant amount, including structure, electronics and optics, and it’s all in the FBI lab at Quantico now,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. Investigators are now in the process of analyzing the “guts”. Key sensors, which were probably used to gather information, have also been secured.
The United States accuses the government in Beijing of having the balloon spy on military facilities. This was one of a whole fleet of spy balloons that China used to spy on more than 40 countries on five continents.
The Chinese government, on the other hand, speaks of a civilian research balloon that should have been collecting weather data and went off course. China also rejects the accusation that other spy balloons are in use. The “balloon affair” is causing additional tension in the already strained American-Chinese relationship.
Search for debris from other kills also ended
A few days after the launch of the alleged spy balloon from China, the US military took down three more mysterious flying objects, one over the state of Alaska, one over Canada and one over Lake Huron in the northern United States.
In these cases, too, the search for debris was stopped. “The US military, federal agencies and Canadian partners have conducted systematic searches in each area,” the US military said. All possibilities were used, including aerial photographs and sensors, surface sensors and inspections, and subsurface scans. But no debris was found.
Why are more and more mysterious flying objects suddenly being discovered?
Since the launches, there has been speculation about the origin and purpose of the flying objects. US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that “there is currently no evidence that they were connected to China’s spy balloon program or that they were any other country’s surveillance vehicle.” According to the US intelligence services, it is currently most likely that the balloons were from private companies or research institutions.
The President stressed that there was “no evidence of a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky”. The sensitivity of the radars has been increased so that more objects have become visible. The US government justified the shooting down with a danger to air traffic. As a consequence, Biden announced stricter rules to monitor and, if necessary, shoot down unknown flying objects in US airspace.
qu/AR (dpa, afp, rtr)