Pentagon briefing after fourth ‘unidentified object’ shot down | LiveNOW from FOX


Ladies and gentlemen uh good evening and thank you very much for joining us tonight particularly so short notice and on Super Bowl Sunday here in the U.S no less uh and light up tonight's takedown of an Airborne object over Lake Huron Michigan we wanted to ensure you had the latest information and also answer any questions you have in order to provide.

Any additional context on Nora Edge efforts to monitor tracks and appropriately address these kinds of objects joining us tonight is assistant secretary of defense for Homeland defense and hemispheric Affairs Melissa Dalton and general Glenn van commander of North American Aerospace Defense.

Command and U.S Northern command today's discussion is on the record I'll turn it over to assistant secretary Dalton who will provide some brief comments followed by General van hurk and then we'll take your questions with that over to you secretary Dalton great thanks so much Pat and good evening everyone thanks for joining the.

Call um we do aim to be transparent about our military operations and so we want to deprive an update on the most recent Homeland defense operation that occurred this afternoon I'm going to provide a brief overview and then turn to General van herk to provide an operational perspective as well.

In light of the People's Republic of China balloon that we took down last Saturday we have been more closely scrutinizing our airspace at these altitudes including enhancing our radar which may at least partly explain the increase in objects that we've detected over the past week we also know that a range of entities including countries.

Companies research organizations operate objects at these altitudes for purposes but are not nefarious including legitimate research that said because we have not yet been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are we have acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and interests the Spy balloon from the PRC.

Was of course different in that we knew precisely what it was these most recent objects do not pose a kinetic military threat but their past and proximity to sensitive DOD sites and the altitude that they were flying could be a hazard to civilian Aviation and and thus raise concerns again as we have said we do not assess.

That the recent objects pose any direct threat to people on the ground and we are laser focused on confirming their nature and purpose including through intensive efforts to collect debris in a remote locations where they have landed after being shot down we are in close coordination and cooperation with the government of Canada as well as.

Sure NORAD was the Canadian military thanks very much look forward to your questions and I'll hand it over to General van Hart thanks secretary Dalton I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you today and provide you an update every day North American Aerospace Defense command and the United States.

Northern command monitor the approaches to North America and the United States of America across all domains and yesterday evening approximately 1645 or 4 45 Eastern Time on 11 February NORAD detected a radar contact in Canadian airspace approximately 70 or so miles north of the United States border.

We Begin tracking that radar contact and it when became clear it was unknown following normal NORAD procedures it was not talking to the Federal Aviation Administration no squash and approaching our air defense identification Zone I scrambled F-15 fighters from Portland Oregon along with a kc-135 tanker support from Fairchild Air Force base in.

Washington to go investigate to identify what the radar contact was at 1800 Eastern or 6 p.m Eastern the radar track crossed into the United States Sovereign airspace at 704 Eastern Time the f-15s with their tanker support were.

On station to investigate we continued to investigate what's important to point out this is near dark within a half hour 45 minutes of dark we continue to invest in you to identify locate the object we were unsuccessful it's also important to point out in this part of the United States we did not have data link for.

Queuing like we had had before data link allows The Radars on the ground to share information to the fighters Airborne allowing them to cue their sensors and their visual Acuity in an attempt to visually identify the Trap at Sunset we were unable to find the tracks also our radar operators lost the track on radar and.

The FAA was never tracking the radar therefore that's why we called it an anomaly because we weren't able to identify several hours later overnight We Begin seeing an intermittent radar contact east of the position in Montana as it approached Wisconsin at that point we developed a game plan.

Once we started seeing another radar contact to go investigate it's likely but we have not confirmed that the track that we saw in Wisconsin was likely the same tracks in Montana we elected to scramble with the best position to intercept even if we needed to engage with the lowest collateral damage and that was in.

The Eastern portion of Wisconsin just prior to Lake Michigan when the fighters became uh on the the track of interest at that time we monitored the track of Interest as it passed over Lake Michigan we assessed that it was no threat physical threat military threat.

Particular infrastructure that's my assessment it continues to be today we still have an unknown that forces abroad discussion about what is this object that's in our U.S Sovereign airspace it's within our Federal Aviation Administration airspace not providing any Communications not providing any notice that could.

Potentially excuse me potentially help us deconflict and therefore we wanted to investigate further we did attract across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we were cleared to engage the Target in Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan Overland and ultimately down the object at this point about 15 nautical miles east of the upper.

Peninsula in Lake Huron uh what we saw is an object that began drifting potentially most likely landed in Canadian Waters and then Huron and we have ongoing recovery operations with Coast Guard assets uh moving towards this area I would like to highlight this entire time I remain in contact with my Canadian boss when Heir General Wayne.

Air the Canadians were very supportive the Canadians launched two f-18s plus their tanker as well to support this operation the fighters were from Madison Wisconsin Air National Guard unit we utilized a tanker from Pittsburgh Air National Guard and we had an a-wax on station from Tinker Air Force Base Oklahoma that's all I have for my.

Operational update and I look forward to your questions secretary Dalton General van Hurst thank you both for our first question we'll go to Associated Press tar cops hi thank you very much both of you for doing this at this late hour um for secretary Dalton and for General van hurk you know we've had four shoot.

Downs in the last eight days can you talk about the sense of concern you have and should Americans be worried this is a very rare thing to have this many shootings or any shoot Downs over uh U.S airspace and then secondly General vayne hurt can you give us any indication of what your Pilots are seeing and Reporting thanks.

Hey before we jump into the question just a reminder everyone please mute your phones thank you sounds like we have an open mic out there my apologies over to you Ma'am great um Tara thanks so much for for the question and for dialing and also at a late hour um the Safety and Security of the.

American people are job number one for for us at the Department of Defense and certainly for NORAD and general van Hart's team um we following the um track of the PRC building last week as I mentioned at the top um we have been more closely scrutinizing our airspace at these.

Altitudes enhancing our radar which may at least partly explain the increase in the objects detected but we also know that there are a range of entities out there whether they're private companies research organizations that operate objects at these altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious including legitimate research.

Um but because we have not been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are the president wanted to act out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and our interests so we will remain Vigilant we have made these enhancements to our Radars and the operations this past week have been successful in in bringing down these.

These potential threats and we are hard at work now recovering the degree to better understand um that certainly the capabilities of the surveillance balloon from the PRC but also the nature of these unidentified objects to better understand were they surveillance objects what was their purpose what are.

Their capabilities and we look forward to sharing more as we learn more in in the coming days thanks Melissa let me just add on so your question is about citizens being concerned I'm assessed with all of these to be non-kinetic threats Homeland and uh I don't see that changing even when we recorded debris every day NORAD.

United States Northern commands are ready to defend uh sir as required so I think this is a story where we were successful in detecting uh and if if needed to respond what I would tell you is what we're seeing is very very small objects uh that produce a very very low radar cross section.

I'm not going to go into detail about shapes or anything like that really because it's really really difficult for Pilots got the altitudes we're operating there's a very very slow object in the space if you will going at the speed of the wind essentially and our Pilots are going super 100 miles per hour to give us what I would consider a factual.

Scientific based description of what we see and therefore I'm hesitant to tell you that with that being said I would like to talk about the radar and the challenges that we Face some something going this slow so as assistant secretary Dalton talked about uh radar is essentially um filter out information based on speed.

So you can set various Gates we call them velocity Gates that allow us to filter out low speed clutter so if you had Radars on all the time that we're looking at anything from zero speed up to say a hundred you would see a lot more information we have adjusted some of those gates to give us better Fidelity on seeing slower objects you.

Can also filter out by altitude and so with some adjustments we've been able to get a better categorization of radar tracks now and that's why I think you're seeing with these overall plus there's a heightened alert to look for this information I hope that adds additional clarification just one quick follow-up um you know four shoot Downs in eight.

Days when was the last time that U.S Fighters were scrambled and shot something down over U.S airspace I I can't remember anything and it just seems like there's a large and quick escalation to shooting down objects we all have to get with our historians I believe this is the first time within the United States of America airspace.

That Norad or United States Northern command has taken kinetic action against an Airborne object thank you tart thank you sir ma'am let's go to Jen Griffin Fox News hey thanks Pat um this is Liz I'll be asking for Jen today um are these balloons that have been shot down since Friday or are they.

Weather balloons foreign s we're calling them objects for a reason uh certainly the event of the South Carolina coast uh for the Chinese spy balloon that was clearly a balloon these are objects uh I am not able to categorize how they stay aloft it could be a gaseous type of uh.

Balloon inside a structure or it could be some type of a propulsion system but clearly they're uh they're able to stay aloft I would be hesitant to and urge you not to attribute it to any specific country we don't know that's why it's so critical to get our hands on these so that we can further assess and analyze what they are.

Thank you next we'll go to Nancy Youssef Wall Street Journal thank you um my assessment is that they don't pose a kinetic threat but that they are objects and not balloons and that you need to sort of adjust your radar and I guess I'm trying to get an understanding what is the the expectation going forward at.

Least in the next few days are you is it your plan to continue to shoot these down or to make adjustments such that you can make assessments better that they don't always have to happen when you're shooting something down I I'm trying to get a sense of the adjustment General advantage that you refer to and what that will look like practically.

Speaking in the days ahead thank you and Nancy thanks for the question so the expectation going forward is we'll continue to doing doing our mission exactly like we've been doing now approaching 65 years for NORAD if there's an unknown object that enters either Canadian or U.S airspace we will go out we will attempt to identify if.

It's a threat kinetic threat military threat I am delegated The Authority if it commits a hostile act or hostile intent and let me describe hostile act hostile act would be shooting a missile dropping a bomb taking aggressive action a hostile intent would be maneuvering to an offensive position against our forces or.

Something like that in that situation I'm cleared directly to engage without further permission in this case there is no hostile act or hostile intent but it is an unknown object and therefore we have to have a further discussion across the government both the government of Canada in some cases and the government of the United States to assess is it a.

Risk to National Security by passing over key covered facilities such as our missile fields and other structure is it a risk to flight safety is it a risk to Personnel on the ground and then if you're going to take action you have to make an assessment of what is the risk of collateral damage to potentially boats and Mariners out of the water or.

Infrastructure and people on the ground that's essentially the process you go to and have to go through and we've done that on each one of these thank you thank you very much let's go to David Martin CBS you say that this is the the first time we've ever had shoot Downs at least as to the best.

Of your memory but has any of this happened before the Chinese balloon was discovered have there been these unidentified objects which have been tracked for a while and then left U.S airspace but but have entered and for one reason or another we're not uh which they say prosecuted like you've.

You've been doing these uh the ones since the uh that the Chinese balloon it's a great great question thanks for that so we have scrambled in the past against radar uh tracks that we've been unable to correlate with Fighters that has happened over years uh and sometimes it's attributed to potentially being Birds sometimes it's been attributed to.

Weather uh sometimes we don't know what to attribute into what I would say is you go back and look over time we've been able to figure out the best way to track various sources including uh the Ohio balloons that we've talked about recently back to 2019 and prior and couple that with our adjustments of our radar it gives us a better ability to.

Detect and have better domain awareness as you've heard me talk about I don't know if secretary Dalton wants to add anything to that thank you very much I would just add to that that as as we learn more about these objects and certainly the PRC balloon um we're going to enhance our.

Understanding of the characteristics um of them um that will perhaps enable us to look back um at prior instances um that were potentially overlooked or weren't looked closely enough at uh you know to see if if there's a comparison to be made there and certainly will help.

Us going forward to better identify and and track these types of objects in the land have you reached the uh the object that went down off uh northern Alaska David we're actively searching for that uh object right now I've got a Navy PA which is surveilling the area with helicopters as well uh once we locate that object we'll put an Arctic Security.

Package in there and begin the analysis and recovery but we don't have it right now thank you thank you let's go to Courtney QB NBC hi thanks how are you so confident that the initial balloon was Chinese were there some markings on it I'm trying to figure out why because from from very.

Early on it seemed that there was a real confidence versus these last three that we can't get any sense of who owns them or what they were doing foreign thank you um So Courtney for the the PRC balloon um we had a basis in intelligence uh to know definitively.

Um that at point of origin was the People's Republic of China so what I'm what I'm struggling with now is these these last three that we still are calling objects we don't know what they are you knew that the Chinese one was was surveilling and potentially you knew who it belonged to and and yet there was no effort to there there was a.

Decision not to take it down until it was over the ocean I understand that there was concerns about everything on the ground there but can someone explain why the decision is made to take these last three unknown objects we don't know who they belong to we don't know what they're doing that you know but I still don't quite.

Understand why the decision was made to it literally in succession it seems like they're being being taken down faster and faster and faster I mean is there is there some other concern or threat that you're tracking that that is giving a heightened sense of need to take these down according.

Um the thank you the the process that General van Hart described earlier in terms of the criteria that we work through um to determine whether you know these objects or in the case of the PRC balloon the balloon was was a threat um we looked to see if it's going to pose a kinetic military threat in both.

Cases um that that was not the case we look to see is it surveilling potentially DOD sensitive sites we knew that was the case in both instances then it was even more concerning in the case of the PRC balloon because we knew that it was a PRC balloon we also consider is it a threat to.

Civilian aviation in the case of the PRC balloon it was flying at an altitude that it did not pose a threat to civilian Aviation um and so that was part of the criteria for bringing it down over over the water when we could safely do so in addition to its enormous size it was 200 feet tall payload was the size of three.

School buses and you know for these these unidentified objects being much smaller but unfortunately flying at an altitude that that did pose arrest risk potentially to save civilian Aviation that was part of the criteria that went into deciding to take the objects down over the last three days sooner in in.

The the tracking cycle so you know that's the process that we have rigorously worked through over the last week General didn't hurt anything you want to add so uh Melissa I think you're you're right on I don't have anything to add thank you let's go to Brent Dahlberg Michigan Radio.

Hi thanks uh a missile seems like a particularly destructive weapon uh to be using if there's a desire to investigate and figure out what these are afterwards can you explain why explain the weapons choice absolutely also if you don't mind I'll take this one so um first of all.

Maintaining a radar track on an object this small is very hard so taking a radar shot such as an m120 would be a lower probability of success we assess taking a gunshot yesterday in that event as well as today and the pilots in each situation felt that that was really unachievable.

Because of the size especially yesterday in the altitude and also because of the challenge to acquire it visually because it's so small it's also potentially a safety of flight issue because you have to get so close to the object before you see it that you potentially could fly into the debris or the actual object therefore in each situation the aim 9x a.

Heat-seeking missile or infrared missile that sees contrast has been the uh the weapons of choice against the the objects which we've been seeing in each case we have taken Extreme Caution to ensure that we limit potential collateral damage so today we work closely with the FAA to clear out the airspace I had I gave directions.

Specifically to the pile words to use their visual Acuity to check for Mariners on the ground airplanes in the air to clear with their Radars as well and when they were comfortable that we could minimize collateral damage they selected the best weapon today that was the aim 9x and they took the shot thank you let's go to Helene Cooper New.

York Times hi thanks Pat and thanks for doing this this is for General van hurk uh because you still haven't been able to tell us what these things are that we are shooting out of the sky that raises the question um have you ruled out aliens or extraterrestrial terrestrials and if so.

Why because that is what everyone is asking us right now and thanks for the question Elaine I'll let the Intel community and the counterintelligence community figured that out I haven't ruled out anything at this point we continue to assess every threat or Potential Threat unknown that approaches North America uh with an.

Attempt to identify it thanks let's go to uh Warren Lieberman CNN well thanks for doing this uh are you currently tracking other unidentified objects in U.S airspace and you've now shot down three objects in three days are we to believe these are the first three unidentified objects in U.S.

Airspace or do you believe there are dozens or potentially hundreds of other such objects that have flown through U.S airspace and have any of these recent objects interfered with pilot sensors thank you yeah for your last question I'm not going to talk about the sensors and what we've seen if you don't mind that that.

Needs to come out through the Intel communities and what we've seen I'm not currently tracking any other objects at this point that doesn't mean there couldn't be more at some point in the future but right now we're not seeing anything as far as uh you know why previously I don't know if there was more we do know after the fact that.

There was high altitude balloons because we went back and we were able to reconstruct that as far as these specific objects at this time I'm unaware to say it's certainly possible but I I don't have the Fidelity to give you the answer we will go look at the data to see if we can figure anything out about the potential for not seeing.

These previously Reuters hey there I just want to double check what exactly I know you talked about the the fact that you had you know we weren't tracked looking for slower speed um aircraft and uh and that these objects had a lower radar cross section but could you just kind of explain to us.

What makes uh these objects in particular more difficult to track or why you weren't tracking them before and then and I guess the other question I think everybody's kind of wondering is you know now that you've tweaked everything should the American public be expecting you know lots more shoot Downs thanks.

Thanks Phil what makes him really hard to detect and track is is their size uh and potentially Shake but we'll get our hands on them at some point I can't confirm that right now but that could certainly play a a rule or a a factor in this as far as going forward I'll go back to my mission is to defend our homeland in both my NORAD and North.

Combat anything that approaches North America if it's unknown I'm going to go identify it and assess is it a threat if it is a threat I'll shoot it down if it's not a threat the kinetic military threat that we talked about earlier it's not committing the Hostile act or hostile intent then we'll have a broader discussion your second part of that is.

Really about what are we going to the future is really a policy decision I'll ask secretary Dalton if she wants to add anything I'd only add again that the Safety and Security of the American people is is job number one for us um and for any of these operations um we fine-tune them to ensure that um.

There's going to be little to no collateral damage none of the operations over the last week have resulted in collateral damage secretary could you just explain then is it is it could we expect that there's been a policy decision that will lead us to near daily shootdowns as we detect these things more and more.

So thank you we are taking this very much on a Case by case basis um each operation has has been different um and we will certainly keep you updated as we continue to learn more about these objects and the PRC balloon and what that means for us going forward you let's go to Ben Brash Washington Post.

Thank you very much both for taking the time um more directly um and in reference the last question is it our policy or a preference of the United States government still to not shoot down anything over U.S territory um when is it that you make that call I.

Know you talked about assessing if anything was a kinetic threat but is it policy or preference thank you very much the the policy is to defend the the United States and its Sovereign territory and their space we'll stop thank you if you have time for just a few more let's go to Dimitri savaspalo Financial Times.

Uh thanks very much Pat um two questions at this point are you able to assess that the the three objects over Alaska Yukon and Lake Huron are they similar objects as far as you can tell and then secondly the Biden Administration has said that it um realized this was a problem last year a briefed Congress in August so I'm.

Curious why didn't you recalibrate the gateways on the radar systems earlier um if you knew the Chinese balloons were an issue at that point yeah let me talk about the the so the the way I would characterize uh similar uh they're similar in size uh similar in speeds that go with the Wind on these objects that we've seen as far as.

Specific shapes we've got to get our hands on those to see uh Fidelity of detail of shape uh how they get airborne do they have propulsion all of those things are still to be determined your second point of that of that question remind me what that was so you said that recently the reason you may be detecting more things as you.

Recalibrated or changed the thresholds for gateways on the radar systems I wonder given that you briefed not you but the administration briefed Congress on the Chinese balloon program last August why were gateways not changed back then foreign that's a great question.

Um you know the timing of the Intel uh and adjustments what I would say is we didn't necessarily need to see a need to change everything the Chinese high altitude alerted us to the uh the speed the slowness and being able to detect we decided to do that at that time I hope that makes sense to you they've given that there were questions.

About the program you know as early as August last year and those balloons were flying at those kind of speeds then was there not a discussion about changing the gateways back then I can uh perhaps help here as well um so the the briefings to um Congress last year were done I believe through intelligence channels.

Um and again you know that was Intelligence that was better understood retrospectively um based on elements of the equation that were discovered after the fact um and then the High Altitude balloon from the PRC that was shot down last weekend was categorically different than the prior high altitude balloons because.

It transited the entire continental United States starting with Alaska across Canada and across conus and so it was quite different than than the prior instances and and on that basis we determined that we needed to enhance our our radar thank you you've got time for just uh two more questions here we'll go to.

Peter Martin Bloomberg hey thanks very much for doing this um I wanted to ask has secretary Austin talked yet with wife on her from the PRC about the first balloon and then in addition his DOD communicated with the Chinese military at any level about any of these subsequent objects thank you thank you.

Um there there have been a contacts made with the PRC on the High Altitude go in foreign thank you very much and uh final question we'll go to uh Brian everstein Aviation week I thank you so much for doing this back to the discussion on the am9x can you talk about what about these objects gave.

Off enough heat signature for the IR Seeker without any sort of propulsion system and secondly uh the F-16 presumably has a targeting pod I assume you had eyes on from other aircraft will the Pentagon be releasing any of these images yeah I'll let uh policy decide on on the images that's not mine but the the m9x.

First I wouldn't make an assumption there wasn't a propulsion system or there was what I would say is what you have is a contrast between uh the the uh you know the the environment and the objects themselves which gives often uh IR contrast which allows the missile to track and that's been very very effective for the aim9x Melissa over to.

You on the police and releasing of photos thank you um we we absolutely want to be transparent about our military operations and what we are learning about these objects and the PRC high altitude balloon and hope to share more in the coming days.

My apologies I had one last question here this uh to Nick Slaton task and purpose and that will be our final question thank you um I wanted to see when we talk about investigating or investigating the debris of this who's taking bleed on that is that the all domain anomaly.

Resolution office and then also we've seen free shoot downs and free days is if this was to continue if this pays operations just continue would that is that proving to be it would be a strain on units or all units able to handle these kind of Rapid scramblings in that regard thank you you go right ahead thank you thanks uh.

All right so as far as the recovery League uh technically uh the FBI uh has the lead under counterintelligence authorities they are embedded with DOD because we have the resources to enable them to conduct the operations uh in Canada the Canadians have the lead uh they're Royal Canadian police are embedded with their Canadian Special.

Operations forces and we have the FBI forces as well uh liaison with them to make sure that we're sharing as much info as possible thank you secretary secretary Dalton General van hurk thank you both very much ladies and gentlemen that is all the time we have for this evening thank you again for joining us we will be.

Posting a transcript to uh once it's available you're just listening in there to the Pentagon press briefing here as we learn more information on that fourth object that was shot down over Lake Huron here on live down from Fox that's what we do we take you to a live run unfiltered we're going to take a quick two minute.


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