Ministers admit spy balloons might ALREADY have targeted the UK and China poses a ‘realistic threat’ – after US military shot down series of UFOs
- Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to assess the dangers of suspected spy balloons
- Four objects in US or Canadian airspace have been shot down in just over a week
Ministers today admitted that Chinese spy balloons might already have targeted the UK – after the US shot down a series of UFOs.
Transport minister Richard Holden said there were likely to be elements in Beijing acting as a ‘hostile state’, and the government must be ‘realistic about the threat’.
The comments came after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced a review into suspicious flying objects, amid fears that they might not have been spotted in British airspace.
US fighter jets shot down an ‘unidentified object’ over Lake Huron yesterday – the fourth object to enter US or Canadian airspace in just over a week.
Mr Wallace said: ‘The UK and her allies will review what these airspace intrusions mean for our security. This development is another sign of how the global threat picture is changing for the worse.’
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced the UK is to assess the dangers posed by suspicious flying objects
This is the image of the 148th Fighter Wing F-16C that shot down the unidentified object over Lake Huron. It is pictured landing back at Madison missing an AIM-9X
Transport minister Richard Holden said there were likely to be elements in Beijing acting as a ‘hostile state’, and the government must be ‘realistic about the threat’
The Defence Secretary has made clear that any objects spotted should be shot down.
Asked on Sky News whether Chinese spy balloons have already been used over the UK, Mr Holden said: ‘It is possible.
‘It is also possible, and I would think likely, that there would be people from the Chinese government trying to act as a hostile state.’
He added: ‘I think we have to be realistic about the threat these countries pose to the UK.’
Asked how concerned ministers were about the US shooting down unidentified objects in recent days, Mr Holden said: ‘I think the Government is concerned about what’s going on.’
Alicia Kearns, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, told the Telegraph: ‘The US will share with us and Five Eyes allies its conclusions on the capabilities of the Chinese balloons, and at that point an internal review of our ability to identify, track, disrupt and destroy these balloons will be undertaken.’
On February 4, the US military downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after floated over sensitive military sites across North America.
Almost a week later on February 10, they shot down an unknown ‘car-sized’ object in US airspace off the coast of Alaska.
Yesterday a further unidentified object was shot down with a missile by US fighter jets over Lake Huron.
The ‘octagonal’ object flew near a sensitive US military site in Montana and had ‘potential surveillance capabilities’ – although the Pentagon is not yet sure how it was able to stay aloft.
An F-16 fighter jet shot down the unknown aerial object from around 20,000ft over the Great Lakes at at 2:42pm.
There is speculation that a detailed survey of US airspace might uncover more crafts in the coming days.
A US Department of Defense spokesman said: ‘Based on its flight path and data we can reasonably connect this object to the radar signal picked up over Montana, which flew in proximity to sensitive DOD sites.
‘We did not assess it to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground, but assess it was a safety flight hazard and a threat due to its potential surveillance capabilities. Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more.’
The object on Sunday was shot down because of the increased ‘abundance of caution.’ It has not yet been identified.
A spokesperson said on Sunday night: ‘We will remain vigilant. The operations in the last week have been successful in taking down the potential threats.’
The Pentagon added: ‘Its path and altitude raised concerns, including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation. The location chosen for this shoot down afforded us the opportunity to avoid impact to people on the ground while improving chances for debris recovery.
‘There are no indications of any civilians hurt or otherwise affected.’
Michigan congressman Jack Bergman tweeted yesterday that he had been in contact with his colleagues at the Department of Defense following reports of an unidentified air craft making its way across the Great Lakes.
He revealed: ‘The US military has decommissioned another ‘object’ over Lake Huron.’
The Federal Aviation Administration abruptly closed ‘national defense airspace’ over part of Lake Michigan.
The agency announced that it closed down the area to examine a ‘potential contact’. It was lifted less than an hour later.
The Pentagon said it had nothing further to add other than NORAD’s Saturday night statement.
A flight radar shows military aircraft scrambled off the northeast coast of Alaska to search for the debris from the unidentified object. This comes after the US reportedly developed a system in 2022 to detect spy balloons on a radar
The fighter jets were scrambled from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage on Friday morning to intercept the object near Deadhorse Bay (above) on the northeast coast
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, is seen on Tuesday. On Saturday he announced an ‘unidentified object’ had been shot down over the Yukon
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Saturday that he had requested US and Canadian forces scramble to intercept ‘an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace’, and a U.S. F-22 shot it down at 3:41pm Eastern Standard Time.
A senior government source explained to CBC News that the object crossed into Canadian territory on Saturday morning.
It was described as being smaller than the Chinese spy balloon that made its way across the US earlier this month.
Two F-22s were dispatched from the US from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska; and two F-18s from Cold Lake Air Base in Alberta, Canada to shoot down the object over Canada.
It was shot down with an AIM-9X missile at 3:41pm Eastern Standard Time, and was flying at about 40,000 feet. The missile is described by the manufacturer as ‘the most advanced infrared-tracking, short-range, air-to-air and surface-to-air missile in the world.’
In the aftermath, Mr Trudeau said Canadian teams were now working to recover the debris.
‘I ordered the take down of an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace,’ he tweeted on Saturday.
‘@NORADCommand shot down the object over the Yukon. Canadian and U.S. aircraft were scrambled, and a U.S. F-22 successfully fired at the object.’
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