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The United States and Canada have halted the search for three flying objects that were shot down by US fighter jets in the first two weeks of February. While the remains of an alleged Chinese spy balloon that was shot down on February 4th were found, the search for the other three smaller objects has been abandoned. US officials suspect that these objects were likely civilian-owned balloons, and systematic searches over Alaska, Lake Huron, and the Yukon failed to yield any debris.
Despite the efforts of the US military, federal agencies, and Canadian partners, no traces of the downed objects were found. Washington’s Northern Command utilized airborne imagery, a variety of sensors, and below-surface scans in their search, but to no avail. The object that was shot down over Canada’s Yukon was deemed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as “not tied to a scenario that justifies extraordinary search efforts.” Other factors that led to the decision to end the search include snowfall and a “decreasing probability” that the objects would be found.
While the US collected sensors and other debris from the alleged Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down, the recovered material has been sent to an FBI laboratory for analysis. National security spokesman John Kirby stated that there was a “significant amount” of recovered material, including the “payload structure as well as some of the electronics and the optics.” The US military believes that the recovered sensors and electronics may provide clues about Beijing’s alleged surveillance operation, but China continues to deny any involvement in the incident.