SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - After the U.S. military shot down an unidentified object over Lake Huron, questions swirled about what the mystery item was. On Thursday, President Joe Biden said the object is not believed to have come from China, but rather was part of a private research project.
Biden has remained largely silent on the issue of the three objects downed Friday off the coast of Alaska, Saturday over Canada and Sunday over Lake Huron. On Monday, the White House announced earnestly there was no indication of "aliens or extraterrestrial activity."
By Wednesday, U.S. officials said they were still working to locate the wreckage from the objects, but that they expected all three to be unrelated to surveillance efforts.
"We acted out of an abundance of caution. We had an opportunity that allowed us to take down these objects safely. Our military and the Canadian military are seeking to recover the debris so we can learn about these three objects," Biden said. "We don't yet know exactly what these three objects were but nothing right now suggests they were related to China's spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country."
"The intelligence community's current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, research institutions studying weather, or conducting other scientific research," the President said.
Biden said when he came into office, he instructed the intelligence community to better keep track of flying objects but said they're typically research objects that are in the sky.
"I want to be clear, we don't have any evidence that there has been a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky. We're now just seeing more of them, partially because, of the steps we've taken to increase our radars," Biden said. "Make no mistake, if any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people I will take it down."
Biden said he would share with Congress the classified policies and procedures – which will remain classified, he said.
Still unaddressed are questions about the original balloon, including what spying capabilities it had and whether it was transmitting signals as it flew over sensitive military sites in the United States. It was believed by American intelligence to have initially been on a track toward the U.S. territory of Guam, according to a U.S. official.
The U.S. tracked it for several days after it left China, said the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. It appears to have been blown off its initial trajectory and ultimately flew over the continental U.S., the official said.
Balloons and other unidentified objects have been previously spotted over Guam, a strategic hub for the U.S. Navy and Air Force in the western Pacific.
It’s unclear how much control China retained over the balloon once it veered from its original trajectory. A second U.S. official said the balloon could have been externally maneuvered or directed to loiter over a specific target, but it’s unclear whether Chinese forces did so.
After the balloon was shot down, the White House revealed that such balloons had traversed U.S. territory at least three times during President Donald Trump’s administration unknown to Trump or his aides — and that others have flown over dozens of nations across five continents. Kirby emphasized Monday that they were only detected by the Biden administration.