U.S. ceases hunt for mysterious downed objects


The termination of the search for items that crashed over Alaska and Lake Huron implies that there's a chance the objects may remain uncollected and unanalyzed.

According to a US military official, the search for two of the unidentified flying objects that were shot down by the military this month has been abandoned, raising concerns that the objects may never be analysed. The floating vessels over North America have piqued curiosity since a US missile destroyed a Chinese spy balloon on February 4th. President Biden recently stated that the three objects shot down thereafter were probably research balloons, not spy craft, and the military allocated fewer resources towards recovering them.

American authorities had been attempting to reach remote areas of Alaska and Lake Huron to locate two unidentified objects, but the punishing terrain and weather conditions posed significant challenges. Despite their best efforts, a U.S. official reported on Friday that it had become too difficult to pinpoint the objects due to the conditions. In contrast, the Canadian search for the third object over the Yukon was still ongoing at the time, as reported by the official.

Ships in Lake Huron had scoured the surface and underwater areas but had not found anything. On Thursday, the Coast Guard ceased operations there, and by Friday, the entire search was terminated.

Meanwhile, military pilots were circling 20 miles off the coast of northern Alaska on Friday, temporarily imposing flight restrictions. The pilots surveyed the frigid region of the Arctic Ocean, which was almost entirely frozen except for occasional breaks of cold water cutting through the ice sheets. With temperatures dropping below minus 27 degrees, the harsh conditions presented additional difficulties for the search operation. Furthermore, the slow churning of the sea ice in the area could drag objects beneath the water or grind them up, making it even more challenging to locate anything.

On Friday, pilots equipped with radar flew aircraft over Alaska in an attempt to locate the downed object. However, the search proved fruitless, and the U.S. official stated that the object, thought to be approximately the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, could not be found. The object was floating at around 40,000 feet when a F-22 fighter jet pilot shot it down using a Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

According to President Biden, the intelligence community's assessment indicates that the three downed objects were most likely research balloons tied to private companies, recreational purposes, or weather studies. On Friday, John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, hinted that the objects might never be recovered.

Reports have emerged that a group called the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade believes that one of the downed objects could be its balloon. However, Kirby stated that "it's very difficult until you can get your hands on something to be able to tell," and acknowledged the possibility that the objects may never be found.

In response to criticism that the Biden administration overreacted in shooting down the objects, Kirby argued that the crafts were at altitudes that could affect civilian and military aircraft, making it the right decision. Despite not responding to questions regarding the cost of the recovery operations, a Pentagon official confirmed that much of the operation involved already scheduled flight time.

As for the Chinese spy balloon, Navy divers recovered debris off the coast of South Carolina this week and sent it for further analysis at the FBI's laboratory in Quantico, VA.

NEWS SOURCE: New York times

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