The U.S. military has recently shot down a total of four objects over North America in the past month, and the latest three have yet to be recovered, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.
The conditions to access the debris are reportedly challenging.
The White House announced on Tuesday that the U.S. intelligence community is exploring the possibility that the latest three objects were used for “commercial” or “benign” purposes, NBC News reports.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated that the evaluation is based on what the U.S. has gathered from images of the three objects, but emphasized that the assessment is preliminary as no debris has been recovered.
“One thing we have to consider, and we believe the intelligence community is considering as an explanation, is that these could be balloons tied to commercial or research entities and therefore totally benign,” Kirby said.
“I want to caveat that we haven’t found the debris. We’re still doing the best we can with the observations that were made by the pilots, with the flight profile data that we’ve tried to collect,” he added.
The first object shot down was a suspected Chinese spy balloon on Feb 4, and since then, three more unidentified objects were shot down over North America: one over Alaska on Friday, one over Canada on Saturday, and one over Lake Huron on Sunday.