The US military called off its recovery operation for the objects shot down over Alaska and Lake Huron.
“The US military, federal agencies, and Canadian partners conducted systematic searches of each area using a variety of capabilities, including airborne imagery and sensors, surface sensors and inspections, and subsurface scans, and did not locate the debris.” – NORTHCOM said in a statement.
The US military has concluded its recovery operations for the suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina earlier this month, as well as the search for flying objects it later downed off the coast of Alaska and over Lake Huron after days of ultimately fruitless searches.
The recovery effort ended after “U.S. Navy assets assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully located and retrieved debris” from the balloon, a statement from US Northern Command said Friday.
“Final pieces of debris are being transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory in Virginia for counterintelligence exploitation, as has occurred with the previous surface and subsurface debris recovered. U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard vessels have departed the area. Air and maritime safety perimeters have been lifted,” the statement added.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved the command’s recommendation to call off the search.
The Biden administration had repeatedly pointed to the need to locate and recover the downed objects to be able to identify what they were and who launched them, but US officials had grown less optimistic about recovering debris from them.
The failed search efforts make it increasingly unlikely the public will receive a thorough explanation of what the objects were that US fighters had shot down over three consecutive days.
Three objects were shot down last week – one over the Yukon in Canadian airspace and two over US airspace.
Joe Biden on Thursday said the three objects shot down by $400,000 sidewinders were likely weather balloons.
What an embarrassment.
“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were. But nothing right now suggests they are related to the China spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from anything other country,” Biden said.
“The Intelligence Community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies,” he said.
It is believed that one of the objects shot down was a $10 balloon.
The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade told POLITICO it believes one of the balloons shot down by the military by a $400,000 missile was theirs.
The cost of that balloon: $10-$15
NEW — The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade tells POLITICO it believes one of the balloons shot down by the military was theirs.
* The cost of that balloon: $10-$15
* Cost of the missile to shoot it down: $400,000https://t.co/mcbodTDxjf
— Sam Stein (@samstein) February 17, 2023
Biden however allowed a China spy balloon to traverse across the continental US.
CBS News on Tuesday night reported US Intelligence actually saw the spy balloon lift off near China’s south coast and tracked it for nearly a week before it entered US airspace.
“U.S. intelligence watched the Chinese spy balloon as it lifted off near China’s south coast, meaning the U.S. military had been tracking it for nearly a week before it entered U.S. airspace. Longer than originally know,” CBS News reported.
“What they saw was this balloon heading east from China towards Guam and Hawaii, but then it took a sharp northward turn – a beeline towards Alaska!” CBS reported.