Biden Says Objects Shot Down Over Weekend Likely Not Chinese Spy Craft
White House wants to lead dialogue on “global norms” for unmanned flying objects.
The three objects that U.S. fighter jets downed over the United States and Canada last weekend were “most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions, studying weather, or conducting other scientific research,” U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday.
“We're now just seeing more…partially because of the steps we've taken to increase our radars…and we have to keep adapting our approach…to dealing with these challenges,” Biden told reporters at the White House.. “I'll be sharing with Congress on these classified policy parameters when they're completed, and they'll remain classified so we don't give a roadmap to our enemies to try to evade our defenses.”
Does that mean that the United States can now look forward to a lot more fighter jets using $400,000 missiles against weather balloons? The White House this week launched a new effort to explore other, presumably better options for dealing with unidentified aerial objects.
That followed days of harsh criticism from lawmakers and pundits after a Chinese intelligence-collection balloon crossed over the United States and several sensitive military sites during the final week of January.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement last week. “I still have many outstanding questions regarding last week’s incident.” The shoot downs over the weekend serve as a “reminder that it is even more important that we understand fully why the first balloon was allowed to traverse the entirety of our sovereign airspace uncontested.”
On Thursday, Biden went into more detail about the government’s plans for better dealing with unidentified objects picked up by radar or other sensors.
The United States would first “establish a better inventory of unmanned airborne objects in space above the United States airspace and make sure that inventory is accessible, and up to date.” Secondly, the United States would build new capabilities to better detect unmanned objects over U.S. airspace. The government would also draft new rules for launching and flying unmanned objects over the United States. And finally, the State Department will work to establish a new set of “global norms” of behavior and standards flying unmanned aircraft.
Biden said his administration is working to curb China’s spy-balloon efforts. “We put restrictions on six firms that directly support the…The People's Liberation Army aerospace program that includes airships and balloons, denying them access to U.S. technology. We briefed our diplomatic partners and our allies around the world.”