US Military Northern Command said on Monday that “crews were able to recover significant debris from the crash site, including all key sensors and electronics identified, as well as much of the structure.” Key sensors, which were likely used to gather information, were also protected.
Broadcaster CBS reported on Monday night (local time) that it was an antenna device about ten meters high. The downed balloon had “multiple antennas” and was likely capable of “collecting and locating communications”, the US State Department said.
Beijing denies this. According to Chinese information, the balloon was a civilian research device from China. The US accuses China of launching the balloon for spying purposes. According to US information, it flew at an altitude of about 18 kilometers, well above the level at which civil aircraft fly, was the size of two or three buses and could be seen with the naked eye.
Groping in the dark on three other objects
In contrast to the balloon, it remains unclear who sent them – and for what purpose – in the case of the three most recently sighted flying objects. The aircraft shot down on Sunday over Lake Huron, on the US-Canada border, was traveling about four miles above the ground and appeared to be an octagonal structure with ropes dangling from it but no apparent payload, a US official said. . The Pentagon stressed that there was still no information on where the missile came from and what its purpose was.
Just a few days earlier, two other flying objects had been shot down over Alaska and Canada at an altitude of about twelve kilometers. According to official information, they were significantly smaller than the Chinese balloon – the size of a small car – and at lower altitudes. They would have moved very slowly, more or less at the speed of the wind.
Debris recovery crucial but difficult
A White House spokesman for national security said the objects “can only be definitively characterized when we can salvage the wreckage.” According to official information, salvaging the rubble is difficult due to the local weather and environmental conditions.
In particular, salvaging the downed missile in Alaska is hampered by “arctic weather conditions” such as wind, snow and poor daylight, the Northern Command (Northcom) command staff said. Debris recovery takes place on sea ice.
AP/US Navy Photos released by the military showed the recovery of much of the balloon from the Atlantic
Clarification may take some time
Given the difficulty of salvaging the wreckage, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby warned the public to wait a long time for the background of the flying objects to be clarified. The military continues to monitor the airspace closely, Kirby stressed.
White House: No evidence of aliens
The lack of information about flying objects gives rise to conjectures of all kinds. A possible invasion of aliens has already been speculated on social networks. When asked if the US Department of Defense could rule out that extraterrestrials were behind this, VanHerck simply replied, “I’ll leave it up to the intelligence and counterintelligence services to figure it out. I haven’t ruled anything out at this point.” The US military has never had to shoot down flying objects in American airspace – now suddenly four times in eight days.
USA: No reference to extraterrestrials
In light of growing speculation about flying objects crashing over North America, the White House felt compelled to clarify – and ruled out a possible extraterrestrial connection. “There is no evidence of aliens or extraterrestrial activity in these recent launches,” spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.
At a press conference on Monday, however, the White House made it clear that there was no evidence of aliens or extraterrestrial activity. “I wanted to make sure the American people knew about this,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.
Deputies want information
MEPs from both parties recently asked for more information to prevent wild theories from spreading further. Democratic Senator Jon Tester told CBS: “What’s happened in the last two weeks is just insane. And the military needs to have a plan not only to determine what’s out there, but also to determine the dangers.”
The US is not used to being so challenged militarily and technologically, which is why sober reactions are almost impossible, commented the US magazine “Foreign Policy”.
Portal/Saleh Trades Warplanes are currently on the lookout for more flying objects in US skies
More checks after sighting the balloon?
At least with the balloon, the US is pretty sure it was used for espionage purposes. Melissa Dalton, US Deputy Secretary of Defense, was cautious about the other objects. She only said that it was known that public and private research institutions would launch their own research vehicles into the atmosphere at these heights.
In principle, unidentified flying objects are not uncommon in the US. Just a few weeks ago, a US Department of Defense report revealed that reports of unexplained phenomena in the sky had increased. The Deputy Defense Minister attributes the fact that so many objects were suddenly found so close to each other to the fact that the radar settings were changed after the balloon was launched to look for smaller and slower objects.
US airspace was checked more closely at the time in question. That could “at least partially explain the increase in objects we discovered last week.” Whether this means, on the contrary, that many of these missiles were already on the move there and simply went unnoticed remains to be seen.
US-China: How much does the balloon affair affect relations?
diplomatic endurance test
What is certain is that the incidents are further straining the already tense relationship between the United States and China. According to Bloomberg News, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently considering a meeting with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference – it would be the first in-person meeting since the downing of the flying objects. .
PA/Liu Zheng Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also accused the US of spying.
The State Department in Beijing, meanwhile, has accused the United States of “illegally” launching high-altitude balloons over China more than 10 times in the past year. The US must stop “denigrating other countries and fomenting confrontation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said. “It’s pretty clear which country is the biggest spy empire in the world,” he said, referring to the United States.
Political scientist Heinisch talks about the US-China relationship
Political scientist and US expert Reinhard Heinisch comments on the diplomatic turnaround after the US shoots down a Chinese balloon.
So far, no known cases in the EU
Meanwhile, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced that Britain would conduct a security review following the recent incidents in the US and Canada.
In general, the use of surveillance objects such as balloons and unmanned aerial vehicles without the permission of the authorities of the countries whose airspace these objects penetrate can be considered irresponsible behavior that can lead to international tensions or increase them, said a spokesman spokesperson for the EU Commission at the request of ORF.at. So far, however, “no member state has informed them of a possible discovery of unidentified flying objects over their territory.”