Mystery aerial objects may have benign purpose-White House

Feb 14, 2023
FILE PHOTO: FBI agents process the remains of a balloon shot down by U.S. military off South Carolina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. intelligence community is considering the possibility that three mysterious unidentified objects shot down by U.S. fighter jets were tied to a commercial or otherwise benign purpose, the White House said on Tuesday.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, told reporters that the United States still had no firm grasp on the origin of the three objects.

He said more would be known if and when the debris can be collected, but that the parts are in hard-to-reach areas – two in the frozen north and one in Lake Huron. Kirby said the debris was proving difficult to recover.

He said there was no indication that the trio of objects were tied to China’s spy balloon program. A U.S. fighter jet on Feb. 4 shot down a high-altitude Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina after it transited the United States.

Kirby confirmed that the fighter jet that shot down the object over Lake Huron missed with an initial missile and it landed in the lake.

Absent another explanation, Kirby said the intelligence communities is considering the possibility that the trio of objects could be balloons “tied to some commercial or benign purpose.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Doina Chiacu and Michael Martina; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)