Three UFOs shot down by US were not spy balloons, says Biden

16 February 2023, 21:25 | Updated: 17 February 2023, 01:40

US president Joe Biden said the country was developing "sharper rules" to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects
US president Joe Biden said the country was developing "sharper rules" to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Three unidentified objects shot down by the US last week did not appear to be used for spying and instead were "likely" to be linked to private companies, US President Joe Biden has said.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The president vowed to develop “sharper rules” to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects after a Chinese spy balloon was tracked in American airspace.

He said he made no apology for protecting US skies but added: "We are not looking for a new Cold War with China."

"We don't yet know exactly what these three objects were, but nothing nothing right now suggests they were related to China's spy balloon programme, or they were surveillance vehicles from other any other country," he said. 

"The intelligence community's current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions, studying weather, or conducting other scientific research."

China has denied claims the balloon was surveillance, insisting it was instead an "out of control" weather balloon.

Read more: Chinese balloon sensor recovered from the ocean, US says, with hunt for others ongoing as Beijing denies spy claims

Read more: 'There is no indication of aliens': White House shoots down connection between UFOs and extra terrestrial activity

China threatens response after US shoots down spy balloon

The initial downing of the Chinese surveillance craft was the first known peacetime shooting down of an unauthorised object in US airspace - a feat repeated three times a week later.

Mr Biden sharply criticised China's surveillance programme, saying the "violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable", but said he looked to maintain open lines of communication with Beijing.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken postponed his first planned trip to China as the balloon was flying over the US, and a new meeting with his Chinese counterpart has yet to be scheduled.

"I expect to be speaking with President Xi and I hope we can get to the bottom of this," Mr Biden said.

He said the rules would remain classified so as not to "give a roadmap to our enemies to try to evade our defences."

The Chinese balloon has escalated tensions between the US and China.

Mr Blinken travelled on Thursday to the Munich Security Conference and there was speculation he might use the opportunity to meet top Chinese foreign policy official Wang Yi, who will also be attending the conference.

Still unaddressed are questions about the original balloon, including what spying capabilities it had and whether it was transmitting signals as it flew over sensitive military sites in the United States.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Sir Keir Starmer has told a headteacher that her private school should ‘work to ensure costs are kept affordable for parents’.

Private schools must ‘ensure costs are kept affordable for parents’, Starmer tells headteacher amid plans for tax raid

Exclusive
Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall both committed murders while on probation

One person a week killed by criminal on probation, as former Victims Commissioner slams failure to protect public'sOne person a week killed by criminal on probation, as former Victims Commissioner slams failure to protect public's safety

Tom Hilton said internet sleuths should 'show some respect'

'Show some respect': Teenager wounded in machete attack by Jay Slater gang tells internet sleuths 'to help find him'

Live
Cleverly and Cooper face off on immigration.

General Election LIVE: Cleverly and Cooper to face off on immigration, Met says its not source of election bet leaks

Rishi Sunak Holds Campaign Event In London

Metropolitan Police denies 'leaking names' of Conservatives suspected of betting on election date

Assange was released from Belmarsh Prison in London on Monday

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange leaves UK after being freed in US plea deal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has reached a plea deal.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not be extradited to US after reaching plea deal

Princess Anne is reportedly unable to remember what happened due to the nature of the injury.

Princess Anne ‘unable to recall exactly what happened’ after being ‘hit by horse’ as she faces several days in hospital

England have qualified for the last 16 at Euro 2024.

England qualify for last 16 at Euro 2024 after Spain beat Albania

Rishi Sunak criticised Labour's proposed plans to tackle migration rates in the UK.

UK would be ‘illegal migration capital of world’ under Labour, Sunak says as he sets out plans to ‘stop the boats’

Labour has made cutting knife crime a 'moral mission' should the party come to power

Labour makes cutting knife crime a 'moral mission' as Starmer proposes new child criminal exploitation offence

Spanish police are investigating if Jay's 'background' is relevant to the disappearance.

Spanish police searching for Jay Slater investigate if teenager’s background is ‘relevant’ to his disappearance

Lord Kinnock has said he would not wish being part of the current Tory government on his 'most bloodthirsty enemies'.

‘I wish I was fighting this lot’, ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock says as he brands current Tory party 'superficial'

The president of Finland has said he 'doesn't agree with many things' Nigel Farage says in response to his comments on the war in Ukraine.

'Absolutely not': Finland's president dismisses Nigel Farage’s claim that Nato provoked Russia's war in Ukraine

A man went missing in the water off Bournemouth beach (file image)

Huge search operation launched for man missing in water off Bournemouth beach

Bosses face £1,000 fine for letting employees watch England's Euros clash with Denmark in the office

Offices showing England v Slovenia Euros clash could face hefty £1,000 fine