After a trio of objects were reportedly shot out of the sky above North America, authorities acknowledged that they had no reliable information about what they were or where they came from.
Since the Biden administration allowed a much larger suspected Chinese spy balloon to travel across the entire continent just days earlier, critics wondered why the military chose to scramble fighter jets for costly missions to shoot down objects that had not even been identified.
Now, a balloon enthusiast club based in Illinois is sharing its belief that one of the targeted vessels belonged to a member.
In a statement on Thursday, the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade noted that one of its balloons — equipped with a global-positioning device and antenna — had been tracked for about four months before its last signal on Friday.
The following day, the U.S. Air Force launched a $400,000 missile at an object flying over Canada, near where the balloon had most recently been detected.
Not only do such balloons pose virtually no threat, but versions are reportedly available for as little as $12. The object in question was declared “missing in action” last weekend after traveling around the planet six times without any issues.
The military similarly shot down objects near Alaska’s coast and over Lake Huron in Michigan on the days before and after the suspected balloon was targeted. Subsequent remarks by President Joe Biden and other officials made it clear that, although no one seems to know what the objects were, there was no evidence that they were connected to a Chinese espionage mission.
“The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects are most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreational or research institutions, studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” the president said on Thursday.
It reportedly took two of the Air Force’s expensive Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles to shoot down the object spotted over Lake Huron. The missions sparked significant concerns among Biden administration critics who want to know why shooting the objects down was such a priority.
Why did Biden shoot down three ‘unidentified’ objects? Why now?
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) February 15, 2023
As U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said during an interview on Thursday: “This is the first time in American history, 65 years since [North American Aerospace Defense Command] was set up, that we’ve shot anything down, not to mention three things over three days last weekend. I do think that merits the president directly addressing why those three things were shot down and what we know up to this point.”