Military calls off recovery efforts for two of three downed airborne objects

Aerial Objects Misinformation
In this image released by the U.S. Navy, sailors assigned to Assault Craft Unit 4 prepare material recovered off the coast of Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the Atlantic Ocean from the shooting down of a Chinese high-altitude balloon, for transport to the FBI, at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach, Va., on Feb. 10, 2023. The federal government’s lack of information about four aerial objects recently shot down over North America is helping to fuel conspiracy theories and conjecture on the internet. (Ryan Seelbach/U.S. Navy via AP) Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Seelbach/AP

Military calls off recovery efforts for two of three downed airborne objects

Video Embed

The U.S. military has ended recovery efforts for two of the three unknown aerial objects it shot down in recent weeks.

U.S. Northern Command said on Friday that it recommended concluding the recovery operations that day near Deadhorse, Alaska, and on Lake Huron, as investigators discovered no debris from airborne objects shot down on Feb. 10 and Feb. 12, 2023.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “concurred” with the recommendation to end the searches.


Regarding the object shot down over Alaska, U.S. Northern Command worked with the Alaska National Guard, FBI, and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to find the downed object, but the “arctic conditions and sea ice instability” affected their decision to end the recovery efforts. For the one shot down two days later, the Unified Command Group, consisting of capabilities from U.S. Coast Guard District 9, the FBI, Canadian Coast Guard, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, did not find debris from the object after multiple days of surface searches and subsurface scans.

U.S. officials are unsure of what exactly these two and a third object that the military shot down on Feb. 11 are, and without recovering them, many unknowns could remain indefinitely, but officials have said these aerial objects were most likely not foreign entities.

“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were,” President Joe Biden said on Thursday. “But nothing right now suggests they’re related to China’s spy balloon program, or there were surveillance vehicles from any other country. The intelligence committee’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions, studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”

A day earlier, the military ended its recovery effort for the downed Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina. In late January, the balloon entered U.S. airspace over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, then traveled over Canada, where it then reentered U.S. airspace before traveling across the country. An F-22 shot it down on Feb. 4.

“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. Northern Command said in its statement.

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade said on Tuesday that one of its balloons is missing, and was last spotted at 12:48 a.m. on Saturday along an uninhabited island off the coast of Alaska, while National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said on Friday that the White House was aware of NIBBB’s claim, but said they couldn’t confirm its accuracy.


“We just can’t confirm those reports or what the remains of that balloon might actually end up being and we haven’t recovered it,” he said. “Given the circumstances, in light of what happened with this spy balloon, wouldn’t that be a better outcome? If it turns out that they were in fact civilian or recreational use or weather balloon and therefore benign, which is what the intelligence community thinks, Isn’t that a better outcome?”

A NORAD spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner, “I understand the FBI spoke with that hobby group, and I expect the [National Security Council] task force to have more on the potential identification of the objects.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles