The three UFOs shot down by the US in the past week likely had merely a “benign purpose,” the White House acknowledged Tuesday.
The US is drawing a distinction between them and the massive Chinese balloon that earlier traversed the nation with a suspected goal of surveillance.
The objects may be “tied to commercial or research entities and therefore benign”, White House spokesman John Kirby said.
At Tuesday’s daily news conference, Kirby said it will be difficult to determine the purpose or origin of the three other objects that were destroyed over Alaska, Canada and Michigan until the debris is found and analyzed.
“We haven’t seen any indication or anything that points specifically to the idea that these three objects were part of the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] spying program,” the White House National Security Council told reporters, “or that they were definitively involved in external intelligence collection efforts”.
A “leading explanation” being considered by US intelligence, he added, was that “these could be balloons that were simply tied to commercial or research entities and therefore benign”.
But he noted that no company, organization or government had yet laid claim to the objects.
US and Canadian officials have not yet located or recovered any wreckage from the three downed aircraft.
Biden administration faces criticism over UFO saga
Beijing earlier accused the US of “a trigger-happy overreaction”. China has denied one of its balloons, which was destroyed by a US fighter jet earlier this month off South Carolina, was being used for espionage, saying it was merely a weather-monitoring airship that had blown off course.
The new details came as the Biden’s administration’s actions over the past two weeks faced fresh scrutiny in Congress.
First, US fighter jets didn’t shoot down what officials described as a Chinese spy balloon until after had crossed much of the United States, citing safety concerns. Then the military deployed F-22 fighters with heat-seeking missiles to quickly shoot down what likely were harmless objects.
Taken together, the actions raised political as well as security questions, about whether the Biden administration overreacted after facing Republican criticism for reacting too slowly to the big balloon.