The White House on Monday said the flying objects recently shot down over US and Canadian airspace were not any sort of alien spacecraft and did not appear to be espionage devices with any similarity to the Chinese airship that was downed by an American warplane off South Carolina earlier this month.
Speaking at the outset of the daily White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed what she described as “questions and concerns” about the objects that have been shot down over the US and Canada over the last few days.
"I just wanted to make sure we address this from the White House: I know there have been questions and concerns about this but there is no — again no — indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns,” she said.
As for the flying objects’ more earthly origins, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby did not say if US or Canadian officials had determined the ownership or purpose of the devices that were downed by aircraft on orders from President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over a period of days last week.
But Mr Kirby took pains to stress that they did not appear to be related to the Chinese airship that traversed American airspace earlier this month, and said the objects were shot down because they posed threats to civil aviation because of the altitudes at which they were travelling.
“We do not assess that these most recent objects posed any direct threat to people on the ground. And we are laser focused on confirming their nature and purpose, including through intensive efforts to collect debris in the remote locations where they have fallen,” he said.
Mr Kirby said US officials have followed a “basic course” with each of the shot-down objects, to assess whether they pose physical or intelligence threats.
“We assessed whether they posed any kinetic threat to people on the ground, they did not. We assessed whether they were sending any communication signals, we detected none. We looked to see whether they were maneuvering or had any propulsion capabilities, we saw no signs of that. And we made sure to determine whether or not they were manned — they were not, he said.”
He added that US officials “did, however, assess that their altitudes were considerably lower than the Chinese high altitude balloon and did pose a threat to civilian commercial air traffic”.
Continuing, Mr Kirby said the US government has “no reason” to suspect the as-yet unidentified objects were “conducting surveillance of any kind” but stressed that such a possibility has not yet been ruled out.
The inability to determine whether surveillance was taking place was a reason Mr Biden ordered the objects in US airspace shot down, he added.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies