The recent “objects” shot down in North American airspace since Friday were taken down out of an “abundance of caution,” Melissa Dalton, the assistant secretary of Defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, told reporters Sunday.
“In light of the People's Republic of China balloon that we took down last Saturday, we have been more closely scrutinizing our airspace at these altitudes, including enhancing our radar, which may at least partly explain the increase in objects that we detected over the past week,” Dalton said.
An airborne object was shot down Sunday near Lake Huron, marking the fourth time in roughly a week that US aircraft have shot something down in North American airspace. Dalton said high-altitude objects can be used by a range of companies, countries and research organizations for “purposes that are not nefarious, including legitimate research.”
That was not the case, however, for China’s surveillance balloon that was shot down on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina.
“Because we have not yet been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are, we have acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and interests,” Dalton said. “The spy balloon from the PRC was, of course, different in that we knew precisely what [it] was. These most recent objects do not pose a kinetic military threat, but their path in proximity to sensitive DoD sites and the altitude that they were flying could be a hazard to civilian aviation and thus raised concerns.”