Reports of Unidentified Airborne Objects in the Air Force and Navy, and the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office
The report examined more than 500 reports of unidentified objects in the sky over the past two decades, many of them reported by US Navy and US Air Force personnel and pilots. These reports were assessed by the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution office which tries to look into unexplained phenomena.
Ronald Moultrie said they have not seen anything that would make them believe that any of the objects they have seen are of alien origin.
The Director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office says that his office has received several hundreds of reports of unidentified objects to examine and some that go back years. There were additional cases examined by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Both officials wouldn’t say how many cases had been analyzed and resolved. He said many of the cases would not be considered dangerous and could be examples of things like balloons or UAVs that are operated for other purposes.
When asked if any of the reports were indicative of a threat to national security, to a military facility or to US personnel, he answered, “Yes.”
When we can’t resolve what is, we assume that it is hostile, so we have to take that seriously, said Moultrie.
One of the big issues the Pentagon faced as it began to look more seriously at the issues of UAPs was the stigma around reporting. The stigma associated with reporting spotted objects has been reduced.
The 2021 Report from the House Intelligence Committee: Why is it important to look at what I can do about it? Beth Sanner, national intelligence director, and CNN national security analyst
The House Intelligence Committee was told by Scott Bray in May that there had been 400 reports since the release of the June 2021, report. The reports keep coming in.
There is not a single answer to all of this. Kirkpatrick asked rhetorically Friday. Involving hundreds of cases on which ones go to which things is one thing that I have to sort out.
Editor’s Note: Beth Sanner is a former deputy director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration, a position where she oversaw the elements that coordinate and lead collection, analysis, and program oversight throughout the Intelligence Community. In this role she also served as the president’s intelligence briefer. She is a professor-of-practice at the Applied Research Lab for Intelligence and Security at the University of Maryland and a CNN national security analyst. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own. CNN has more opinion on it.
A South Carolina Embedded Spyball: China’s First Reaction to a US Navy Shipship Collision in 2016
The United States shot down a suspected spy balloon near the coast of South Carolina, and China accused them of overreaction and violation of international practice. This after it had loitered over the US, including sensitive national security sites, for more than four days last week. My reaction to this indignation? Poppycock!
In the late of 2016 the Chinese seized a US Navy underwater vehicle, just 50 nautical miles from Subic Bay in the Philippines and hundreds of miles from China. (Subic Bay was home to the largest US naval base in Asia until disagreements over leasing costs led to a withdrawal in 1992; ironically, US sailors might soon return to the base following Manila’s recent decision to allow a greater, albeit rotational, US military presence in the Philippines as a counter to Chinese aggression.) The incident was widely believed to have been a message to President-elect Donald Trump, just two weeks before his inauguration and several weeks after he angered Beijing by taking a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s president. Beijing agreed to return the craft but never apologized or accused the US of espionage.
The most important example was the presidency of George W. Bush. Two Chinese fighter jets harassed a US Navy plane on April 1, 2001 near China. One collided with the EP-3 and crashed. The pilot of the plane that was heavily damaged regained control of his plane, and made an unauthorized emergency landing in China. The 24 US crew members were held for 11 days, and some were repeatedly interrogated before US officials negotiated their release.
Then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin laid blame for the collision on the US. Nearly two months elapsed before the two sides reached agreement for the return of the aircraft. Having removed and refused to return the plane’s hardware, software and communications equipment, the Chinese insisted the EP-3 be dismantled and transported by a third party at the US’s expense. Beijing also tried to charge the Bush Administration $1 million for costs associated with the incident, including expenses for detaining the plane’s crew. Washington offered $34,000 but China wouldn’t pay it and never apologized.
My first reaction to the Chinese balloon when it was identified floating over Montana was probably the same as yours: “Shoot it down, already!” But in my decades as a senior intelligence official, my role in such circumstances was to focus on the facts, not the outrage, highlighting the intelligence community’s knowledge — and the gaps in our understanding — and providing a measured, clear-headed assessment. In meetings probably held in the White House Situation Room multiple times over the past week, a senior intelligence official would have joined the US military, level-setting the discussion in this vein. So I’m inclined to buy the risk-benefit calculus that drove the decision to wait to shoot the balloon down until it was flying over shallow US waters where the risk posed by a large debris field was minimal.
Ryan Hass, an expert on China and a consultant to the German Marshall Fund said during an interview that establishing guardrails is neither strategy nor policy and is lacking in ambition. Clear boundaries need to be set with China; this is an opportunity for the Biden administration to work with Congress to articulate and implement a clear strategic framework to advance our broader global interests, including boosting current efforts to explain the Chinese threat to a skeptical global South. Another Chinese balloon traversing Costa Rica and Colombia in recent days provides a strong optic.
Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. Bergen is the author of “The Cost of Chaos: The Trump Administration and the World.” The views expressed in this commentary are his own. CNN has more opinion on it.
My father, a lieutenant in the US Air Force in the early 1950s, was part of a program to help send balloons into Soviet airspace.
In 1954 he was assigned to Headquarters Air Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. There he worked on the “Grand Union” project, which deployed balloons that carried cameras over the then-Soviet Union. The balloons were launched from Turkey.
The program that my dad was working on was a secret and no one talked much about it until more than seven decades later.
Multiple Variations of the China’s Flying Balloon Tracking Fleet and the Associated F-35 Thessal Flying Off the Coast of South Carolina
Another source said officials said the balloon would allow the Chinese to collect more signals than satellites and give them a better ability to steer their craft longer over targets.
The US and its competitors have spy satellites that can take photos. They are capable of doing full-motion video. They can take thermal imagery to see how people move at night. They can find pretty much anything with a small resolution of centimeters when the skies are clear.
Indeed, commercial satellite imagery is now getting so inexpensive that you can go out and buy your own close-up images of, say, a Russian battle group in Ukraine. Just ask Maxar Technologies, a profitable business that was acquired by a private equity firm for $6 billion two months ago.
It may be able to explain the small part of a report published by the US Office of Director of National Intelligence last month.
The revelation that the intelligence community only within the last year developed a reliable way to track China’s balloon fleet – which officials now say has flown dozens of missions worldwide – helps explain why Trump administration officials have stridently claimed to have had no knowledge of the three alleged flights over US territory during the former president’s time in office.
China has done worse. The US believes that it is a beneficiary of the work of hackers who stole design data for the F-35 fighter aircraft as it builds its own next generation of fighters, and that it also holds the personal information of more than 20 million Americans. China denied responsibility for the OPM hacking and called the F-35 theft report baseless.
Roughly half a dozen of those flights have been within US airspace – although not necessarily over US territory, according to one official familiar with the intelligence.
And not all of the balloons sighted around the globe have been exactly the same model as the one shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, that official and another source familiar with the intelligence said. Rather, there are multiple “variations,” these people said.
The link to the broader surveillance program, which was uncovered before the latest balloon was spotted last week, was first reported by the Washington Post.
CNN has asked the Chinese Embassy in Washington for comment on the suggestion that the balloon that was shot down is part of a wider surveillance program.
The findings have allowed the US to develop a consistent technical method for the first time that they have used to track the balloons in near-real time across the globe, the sources said. The existence of this method could further inflame criticism from Republican lawmakers that the administration didn’t act quickly enough to prevent the balloon from entering US airspace last week.
The chairman of the Joint chiefs of staff was among the senior administration officials who were not informed of the balloon until it reached Alaskan airspace.
Officials say the biggest unanswered question is China’s intent. China continues to argue that the vessel was a weather balloon that drifted off-course and that its path over the United States was an accident. Officials have acknowledged that this type of balloon has only limited steering capabilities and largely rode the jet stream.
So far, China has offered slim information to fill out its own version of events – maintaining the balloon was a Chinese civilian research airship blown off course and flatly denying a broader surveillance program.
The FOIA 9/11 Report: An Aerial Investigation of a New Flying High-Energy Sailing Balloon
This elite team consists of agents, analysts, engineers and scientists, who are responsible for both creating technical surveillance measures and analyzing those of the US’ adversaries.
OTD personnel, for example, construct surveillance devices used by FBI and intelligence community personnel targeting national security threats — but they also are responsible for managing court-authorized data collection and work to defeat efforts by foreign intelligence agencies to penetrate the US.
There are many reasons why we wouldn’t do that, according to one member of the House Intelligence Committee. We want to collect off it, you want to see where it’s going and what it’s doing.
The US has procedures to protect sensitive areas from overflight video, similar to a Digital Black Out, according to a defense official.
The report – also known as a “tipper” – was disseminated through classified channels accessible across the US government. It wasn’t flagged as an urgent warning and top defense and intelligence officials were not alarmed by it. Sources familiar with the report said that the White House was not made aware of the DIA report, and President Joe Biden was not briefed on it.
Instead of treating it as an immediate threat, the US moved to investigate the object, seeing it as an opportunity to observe and collect intelligence.
Officials familiar with the original DIA report conceded Rubio’s point that they didn’t see the balloon as an urgent threat until it was already over US territory – even as fresh revelations have emerged about what the US knew about Chinese spy balloons.
Some Republican lawmakers have raised pointed questions about why the Biden administration did not move to shoot down the balloon before it crossed down into the continental US – either while it was over Alaska or sooner.
How much control China exerted over the balloon’s path remains a matter of debate. Although the balloon was equipped with propellers and a rudder that allowed it to turn “like a sailboat,” according to the senior US official, it largely rode the jet stream – one of the reasons US officials were able to predict its path across the US in advance.
The object was detected by North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and two F-22 fighter jets from Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, Alaska, were sent up to monitor the object with the help of the Alaska Air National Guard.
The chinese balloon had flown over 50 continents and it didn’t go without a word from a senior State Department official
Military officials said it is not necessarily surprising that the president was not briefed until January 31, given the expectations for the balloon at the time.
The Congress is closely watching the information about the decision making process on the balloon.
There are still many questions to be asked about Alaska, said a Senate Republican aide. I don’t understand why it’s not okay to transit to Alaska without telling anyone, but the continental US isn’t the same.
The primary reason the chinese balloon was allowed to fly through the continental US last week was because there was no concern about damage to people or property if it was shot down.
One pilot took a selfies in his cockpit that show both himself and the balloon, an image that has gained legend in NORAD and the Pentagon.
A senior State Department official said Thursday that the balloon “was capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations” and was part of a fleet that had flown over “more than 40 countries across five continents.”
The Biden administration has determined that the Chinese balloon was operating with electronic surveillance technology capable of monitoring US communications, according to the official.
The lawmakers were told the order to send the balloon was sent without the knowledge of the Chinese president.
What did the Pentagon tell us about the seafloor, and what will we do about it? An appropriations defense subcommittee chairman warned against taking out a baby on the ocean
Only evidence that was on the surface of the ocean has been delivered to FBI analysts so far, one official said, which includes the “canopy itself, the wiring, and then a very small amount of electronics.” The official said analysts have not yet seen the “payload,” which is where you would expect to see the “lion’s share” of electronics.
“We did not assess that it presented a significant collection hazard beyond what already exists in actionable technical means from the Chinese,” said Gen. Glenn VanHerck, the commander of US Northern Command and NORAD, on Monday.
The House briefing Thursday morning was tense, the sources said, with several Republicans railing against the administration, including GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who said that the Pentagon made the president – whom she noted she doesn’t like – look weak by their actions.
The Pentagon was telling us they were able to mitigate in time, and I believe that was correct, according to the Illinois Democrat who spoke to CNN.
The administration, the president, our military and intelligence agencies acted with care, I believe. Their capabilities are very impressive. Is everything done correctly? I don’t think that would be the case for almost anything we do. But I came away more confident,” Romney said Thursday.
Jon Tester of Montana, who is a democrat, told defense officials that they didn’t know how they could say it wasn’t a military threat.
You have to help me understand why this baby wasn’t taken out sooner, since I told you that this isn’t the last time. We’ve seen brief incursions, now we’ve seen a long incursion, what will happen next? said the chairman of the Senate appropriations defense subcommittee.
The Defense Department is not concerned about the recovery of intelligence from the balloon over Alaska, but it’s still unclear how the Pentagon hoped to communicate with China
Pentagon officials said at the hearing that the Defense Department was not concerned about the balloon gathering intelligence over Alaska as it was not near sensitive sites.
The balloon recovered on the ocean has been delivered so far, but the recovery of the balloon that went down has been complicated by bad weather.
It’s not yet clear where the balloon’s parts were manufactured, the officials said, including whether any of the pieces were made in America. Because analysts have yet to look at the bulk of the equipment on the balloon, the officials said that there has not been a determination as to everything the device was capable of doing and its specific intent.
analysts have found no evidence of any kind of bomb that would pose a threat to the American public.
There was English writing on parts of the balloon that were found, one of the sources familiar with the congressional briefings said, though they were not high-tech components. The source declined to provide detail on what specific parts of the balloon contained English writing.
The shoot down of a balloon over the Indian ocean has not affected bilateral relations with China, as President Joe Biden claimed on Wednesday. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was forced to call off his visit to Beijing because of the protest from China. New sanctions in response to the balloon would likely further inflame tensions.
The official said that based on China’s “messaging and public comments, it’s clear that they have been scrambling to explain why they violated US sovereignty and still have no plausible explanation – and have found themselves on their heels.”
“As we saw with the second balloon over Central and South America that they just acknowledged, they also have no explanation for why they violated the airspace of Central and South American countries,” the official said. “The PRC’s program will only continue to be exposed, making it harder for the PRC to use this program.”
According to a source who was briefed on the Thursday’s meeting with Congress, Biden officials believed that the senior leadership of the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese Communist Party, including President Xi, were unaware of the balloon mission over the US.
Later on Saturday, the White House confirmed that Trudeau and US President Joe Biden authorized the shoot-down and the Pentagon said the object was first spotted over Alaska on Friday evening.
On Friday, an unidentified object was shot down in Alaska airspace by a US F-22, and last weekend, a Chinese surveillance balloon was taken down by F-22s off the coast of South Carolina.
A Pentagon spokesman has issued a statement. The object shot down was first seen over Alaska on Friday. Two F-22 fighter jets were dispatched to watch an object that had been tracked by the Alaska Air National Guard.
The second object was first spotted on Thursday, officials said, and F-35 fighter jets were sent up to examine the object further. John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinate for strategic communications, said on Friday that the object was flying at 40,000 feet which posed a ” reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight”.
Kirby said that Biden was briefed on the object on Thursday night, as soon as the Pentagon had enough information. Kirby said it didn’t appear to be self-maneuvering.
“We were able to get some fighter aircrafts up and around it before the order to shoot it down, and the pilots assessment was this was not manned,” Kirby added.
The object debris landed “just off the very, very northeastern part of Alaska” near the Canadian border, on the frozen Arctic Ocean, Kirby said. He said the debris may be easier to recover because it is on ice.
The Alaska National Guard and units under US Northern Command, along with HC-130 Hercules, HH-60 Pave Hawk, and CH-47 Chinook are all participating in the effort to recover the object, Ryder said.
The best description we have right now is that of an object. We don’t know who owns it – whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately-owned, we just don’t know,” Kirby said.
The object first came to the attention of the US government “last evening.” As soon as the Pentagon had enough information, Biden was briefed.
Can the Fallout of the Deadhorse Missing Flying Object be Explained to the American Parliament? The Chinese Connection to China and Blinken
The object “did not appear to be self-maneuvering, and therefore, (was) at the mercy of prevailing winds,” making it “much less predictable,” said Kirby.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction Friday in the area around Deadhorse, Alaska, as the military took action against the object.
Republicans accused the president of allowing the balloon to float over the country before shooting it down, but the president has standing by how he and his administration handled it.
“Given its size, which was much smaller, and the capabilities on the fighter aircraft themselves, the speed at which they were flying, it was difficult for the pilots to glean a whole lot of information,” he said.
The assessment was communicated to American lawmakers in briefings Thursday, according to CNN reporting – and if true, could point to what analysts say would be a significant lack of coordination within the Chinese system at a fraught period of China-US relations.
It could mean that Xi and his top advisers underestimated the potential gravity of the fallout of the mission and the possibility it could imperil Blinken’s visit, which would have been the first from the most senior US diplomat since 2018 and had been welcomed by Beijing as a path to easing strained ties.
Beijing said the device would be linked to companies, rather than the government or military in a statement last weekend.
Such a situation, according to Singapore-based analyst Drew Thompson, could have been exacerbated by the level of control wielded by Xi – who cemented his grip on power last fall as he entered a precedent-breaking third term atop the Communist Party.
Lower-level officials who may have the capacity to watch such missions are unlikely to be given the power to make political judgments about their impact. Power struggles between lower and higher ranking officials could also complicate communication, he said.
There is tension throughout the Chinese system, where lower levels fight for their own independence, and upper levels fight for more control, he said.
Past crises in China have pointed to these tensions, including the outbreaks of both SARS in 2002-2003 and more recently Covid-19, where reporting delays were widely seen as having slowed the response and compounded the problem. Some blamed local officials who feared repercussions, or were accustomed to a system where information flows from the top down, not the bottom up.
Balloon launches could also fall into a gap in which operations were not managed or overseen in the same way as space or other aircraft missions, according to Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago.
In this case, entities launching balloons may have received “little or no push back from other countries, including the United States” and “increasingly seen such launches as routine based on weather conditions and at modest costs,” Yang said.
“As a result, while the leaders of these programs have also become emboldened over time to test new routes, it was likely that they didn’t get top priority attention from the perspective of political risk,” he said.
Xi Jinping, the Defense Minister, and the Recovery of an Alaskan Object Shot Down by a Suspected Balloon
The Foreign Ministry of China released its first explanation of the incident a little over a day after the Pentagon announced it was tracking a suspected balloon.
“Because of his personality, he wants 100% (control),” said Alfred Wu, an associate professor, also at the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. “I don’t think Xi Jinping allows for that kind of autonomy.”
The incident that diverted attention may have been comfortable for Xi but he underestimated the reaction from the US, as they were frustrated with the faltering economy.
Washington seems to be trying to keep the dialogue going between Xi and Biden, even though he wasn’t aware of the situation.
US officials announced that an object was shot down off the frozen coast of Alaska on Friday, but there are few details about the object.
The object appears to be a “cylindrical object” smaller than the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down previously, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said at a news conference on Saturday.
The object did not appear to have any surveillance equipment, according to a US official, which would make it both smaller and likely less sophisticated than the Chinese balloon shot.
Recovery teams are in the process of looking for and identifying debris on the ocean floor.
When asked Friday if lessons learned about China’s balloon assisted in detecting the object shot down over Alaska, Ryder said it was “a little bit of apples and oranges.”
The FBI will be working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police while Canadian authorities conduct recovery operations.
The Minister of Canadian Defense stated Saturday that she had discussed the incident with the US Defense Secretary and that they would defend their sovereignty together.
State Department investigations of the shooting of a black hole by an attempted suicide by a body found on sea ice at z = 1.8 TeV
The statement said there were recovery activities occurring on the sea ice. “We have no further details at this time about the object, including its capabilities, purpose, or origin.”
US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both approved the shoot down on Saturday, according to a statement from the White House.
Pilots gave different accounts of what they observed after coming near the object, a source briefed on the intelligence told CNN; some pilots said it “interfered with their sensors,” but other pilots said they didn’t experience that.