President Joe Biden commanded US fighter jets to shoot down another two mysterious airborne objects that had been sighted above the Alaskan coastline.
Biden says the United States will not tolerate Chinese spy balloons after the military struck down a previous object that traversed the continent and Pentagon officials revealed that multiple surveillance craft floated over the country during the Trump administration.
U.S. officials said Friday the undercarriage of the Chinese spy balloon shot down by fighter jets on Saturday — where the surveillance equipment and other technology was housed — has been found in waters off South Carolina.
One official said it is 30-feet-long or more.
A second U.S official also said that while the main reconnaissance section of the craft has been found, recovery operations have been suspended until Monday because of rough waters.
The rough weather was outside the window under which Navy divers assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 could safely conduct operations.
Because of harsh weather conditions, measures have been taken to ensure that the debris underwater doesn’t move with the currents or sink below depths where a successful recovery is possible.
Among those measures, the official said, was the addition of weights and acoustic-pinging devices so they can be easily located once operations resume.
The USS Carter Hall has returned to shore with the balloon remnants recovered so far and a contracted crane ship has arrived at the location offshore and will remain there until salvage operations resume.
The U.S. military shot down the surveillance balloon on Feb. 4 after it flew across the country for several days.
The incident added tension to the U.S.-China relationship, causing Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned trip to Beijing.
A State Department official said Thursday the Biden administration was looking into “taking action” against China.
As of Thursday, the FBI said it didn’t have enough evidence to conclude exactly what China’s intent was as only an “extremely limited” amount of the balloon had been recovered and sent to the collection lab at Quantico, Virginia, where a team of electronic engineers, digital media recovery specialists, and specially trained agents are involved in examining the balloon.
“Much of the evidence remains underwater,” an FBI official said Thursday on a call with reporters.
US jet fighters shot down two high-altitude objects, one near Deadhorse, Alaska along the north-eastern Alaskan coast and a second near Yukon, Canada, that have yet to be identified.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he ordered the takedown of an unidentified object in Canadian airspace.
The object that was ultimately shot down near Alaska flying at an altitude of 40,000ft, about the same level as commercial planes, and was travelling at about 20 to 40 miles per hour before it was struck down.
Officials say the object had flown over parts of Alaska but was heading toward the north pole before it was struck down.
American radars first identified the object’s presence around 9pm Alaska time on Thursday evening.
A US warplane ultimately shot it down about 1:45pm ET on Friday.