Washington – After American fighter jets shot down a the third high-rise facility over Canada on Saturday, lawmakers from both parties are calling on the Biden administration to provide more details about that facility and two others that have been shot down in the past eight days.
Like other previous incidents, the latest downing of what has been described as an “unidentified object” that violated Canadian airspace has raised American fighter jets and raised further questions about unusual activity taking place in the skies and what could be made in response to possible incursions into national airspace.
The object shot down over the Yukon on Saturday came a day after a “high-altitude object” the size of a small car was shot down over Alaska, and a week after the US military shot down a Chinese hot air balloon off the coast of South Carolina. The Federal Aviation Administration also temporarily closed some airspace in Montana after the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) detected a “radar anomaly” and sent a “fighter jet” to investigate.
NORAD said the aircraft “did not detect any objects that could be attributed to a radar hit.” But Montana Sen. Jon Tester said Sunday that the investigation is ongoing and “there may still be something, [or] it could be a false alarm.”
“What’s been going on for the last two weeks or so, 10 days, it’s been nothing short of crazy,” Tester told “Face the Nation.” “And the military has to have a plan to not only identify what’s out there, but to identify the dangers that come with it.”
Tester, who chairs the defense appropriations subcommittee, said that if the object is still over Montana, he believes it will be shot down.
Recent incidents of balloon-like objects spotted over North America have alarmed lawmakers, and in the case of the Chinese spy balloon, the Biden administration has been criticized by members of both parties for its handling of the intrusion.
A Chinese airship entered US airspace on January 28 and crossed the country, flying over or near our military installations in Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Missouri. Destroyers deflated the balloon off the coast of South Carolina last week, and the Navy led efforts to collect the wreckage and retrieve the balloon’s payload, though rough waters hampered salvage operations.
Republicans and Democrats have questioned why the Biden administration waited to shoot down the balloon and allowed it to cross the country.
“It did a lot of damage,” House Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, noting that the plane flew over nuclear facilities in Montana, Omaha, Nebraska and Missouri in the “plain view” of the American people. McCaul said he disagreed with the administration’s claims that the US had managed to mitigate the threat from the balloon.
“If it was still transmitting over these three very sensitive nuclear sites, I think if you look at the flight pattern of the balloon, it will tell the story of what the Chinese were up to when they flew this aircraft all over the United States,” he said. “In my opinion, a flight over these places would cause great damage. Remember, a balloon can see much more on the ground than a satellite.”
McCaul also called on the US to stop exporting technology that penetrates Chinese surveillance and weapons systems, saying the balloon shot down off South Carolina was carrying US-made equipment. The Biden administration black list six Chinese organizations joined China’s aerospace industry on Friday in an attempt to block its access to American technology.
“When the balloon was found, it contained American-made components with English language markings on it. It was done [with] American-made parts that were put on a spy balloon from China. I don’t think the American people accept that,” McCall said.
Tester also said that he does not believe that “what is going wrong when it comes to China”. But he acknowledged that it is currently unknown whether the car-sized object near Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, home to North America’s largest oil field, is linked to the Chinese government.
“We need to take these things seriously. I think the president and more importantly the military are taking this very, very seriously,” he said. “To confirm that, I think through the appropriations process and the defense committee, we’re going to make sure they take it seriously. The checks and balances will be there as we move forward.”
While more is known about the Chinese spy balloon that flew over the country, it remains unclear what the other two unidentified objects are. A spokesman for the National Security Council said Sunday that the objects that came down over Canada and Alaska “didn’t look much like and were much smaller” than the Chinese airship, and the Biden administration “will not definitively characterize them until we can recover the wreckage.” . which the military is working on.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told ABC’s This Week on Sunday, the Biden administration believes two objects shot down over Alaska and Canada were likely balloons.
“Much smaller than the first one,” Schumer said, referring to the Chinese spy balloon. “Both planes, one over Canada, the other over Alaska, were at 40,000 feet. It was immediately determined to be a hazard to commercial aircraft that also fly at 40,000 feet. So, the second one, in cooperation with the Canadians, the first one with the Americans, took off, and it’s appropriate.”