A “major incident” last fall, and “another one or two” caught commanders’ attention in previous years, Grinkwich said. He declined to provide many details of the incident, citing classification concerns.
During one incident, the balloon was initially above the water and officials did not get close enough to identify whether it was a surveillance asset or just a weather balloon, Greenwich said.
Surveillance balloons allow the operator to “see more continuously in places where we can’t see as much.”
The comments came the same day the US denied flying its own spy balloons over China, refuting Beijing’s claim that the US had flown more than 10 high-altitude balloons over its airspace without permission over the past year.
“China has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program for intelligence gathering, which it has used to violate the sovereignty of the United States and more than 40 countries on five continents,” National Security Council spokesman Adrienne said. Watson said this in a tweet on Monday.
The United States hit back on Sunday after it shot down another unidentified object over its own airspace — the fourth airborne object shot down by the military in just over a week.
While US defense officials have confirmed that the first object shot down off the coast of South Carolina was a Chinese surveillance balloon, they have yet to confirm what the other three objects might be. Officials claim, however, that China operates a “fleet” of surveillance balloons around the world.
“This is the latest example of China’s scramble for damage control,” Watson said in a tweet. “It has repeatedly and falsely claimed that the surveillance balloon it sent to the United States was a weather balloon and has failed to offer any credible explanation for its intrusion into our airspace, the airspace of others.”
John Kirby, the NSC coordinator for strategic communications, also strongly denied on Monday that the United States was flying balloons over China’s airspace, calling Beijing’s claim “absolutely not true.” The Chinese spy balloon program is something the Biden administration has “been studying since we came into office” and has “communicated with dozens of other countries,” Kirby said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“We know that those balloons have crossed over different countries, different continents, and we’re reaching out to our allies and partners, many of those countries, to share what we’ve learned about that,” he said. .
Kirby added that the United States was unable to access the three objects recently shot down “in large part” due to weather conditions. He emphasized that “there could be completely benign and completely explainable reasons why these objects are flying there,” such as corporate organizations or academics. Institutional research purposes.
“We just don’t know,” Kirby said. “But as soon as we find, we get the wreckage and we find out, we’ll definitely share what we can.”