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'We Don't Yet Know Exactly': Biden Speaks About Unidentified Objects Shot Down by US

President Joe Biden speaks about the Chinese surveillance balloon and other unidentified objects shot down by the U.S. military, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – On Thursday President Biden finally broke his silence over three unidentified aerial objects shot down by U.S. fighter jets earlier this month, saying they're not related to China's spy balloon program. 

That's what Biden said about the three latest objects shot down from U.S. air space after posing a remote risk to civilian aircraft. The floating airspace intruders were detected after NORAD recalibrated its radar to detect smaller aerial objects. 

There are still a lot of questions including where these objects came from and to whom they belong. But one of them might have belonged to a hobby club. Aviation Week reports the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade estimates their balloon was flying over the Yukon Territory the same day the U.S. military shot down an object at the same altitude and same general area. 

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It was the first time President Biden gave a somewhat thorough update on the suspected Chinese spy balloon and three additional aerial objects that were shot down after being detected flying between 20,000 and 40,000 feet.

Biden's comments came after lawmakers from both parties pressured the administration for more transparency and called for tougher action with China over its spy balloon. "We ought to be much more forceful than we have been with the Chinese government," said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri. "We ought to be saying to them that this is espionage on our soil. This is a deliberate act by them."

slider img 2Biden said he wants to be clear that there's no evidence there's a sudden increase in objects in the sky, we're just now seeing more of them because of steps taken to increase radar.

"We acted out of an abundance of caution that allowed us an opportunity to take down these objects safely," the president said. "Our military and the Canadian military are seeking to recover the debris so we can learn more about these three objects. Our intel community is still assessing all three incidences." 

Biden said he's directed his team to develop sharper rules for determining how to deal with unidentified objects moving forward and acknowledged a lot of questions remain about the three shot down last weekend. 

"We don't yet know exactly what these three objects were. but nothing right now suggests that they were related to China's spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from other any other country," he explained. "The intel community's current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions."

Biden closed by saying he plans to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon and that he hopes to get to the bottom of this. 

"But I make no apologies for taking down that balloon," he added. 

President Biden's Thursday comments did little to satisfy his critics as Capitol Hill hopes for a more coherent policy in the days ahead. 

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