(CNSNews.com) – The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) adjusted the parameters for its radar systems in the wake of the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down in South Carolina, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said Tuesday.
These adjustments allow for the detection of “slow, high, small” flying objects in U.S. airspace, which could explain in part why three unidentified flying objects were detected and subsequently shot down over the weekend, he told “CNN This Morning.”
When asked why so many unidentified flying objects have been detected lately, Kirby said, “We think in part, Don, that this could explain why you’ve seen so many incidents in a short period of time just over the last few days. We adjusted, the NORAD staff adjusted the parameters for the radar systems.
“The sensitivities to look for things that were low — I’m sorry, slow, high, and small, small radar cross section in the wake of the Chinese spy balloon. So when you’re doing that, when you adjust your sensitivities on the radar, you’re likely to see more of those kinds of contact. We think that’s in part why there have been these most recent incidents,” he said.
CNN’s Don Lemon said that a missile fired at the object flying over Lake Huron in Mich., on Sunday missed its target. He asked whether Kirby knows where that missile is and whether it concerns him if missiles are missing targets in the U.S.
Kirby said he can’t confirm that a missile was fired and missed.
“I would add a couple of thoughts here. One, again these were very small radar cross section targets, and so, it’s not inconceivable to me as a former military man to believe that one might have missed just because of the size of the target, and there are safety mechanisms in place that pilots use. I don’t think the American people or the Canadian people need to be worried about the possibility that one of those missed,” he said.
When asked whether he can guarantee that Americans on the ground will stay safe given that the standard operating procedure going forward is to shoot down these objects, Kirby said, “Yes, I can, Don.”
LEMON: As simple as that, even though you said you don’t know if it was — where that missile is and you can’t confirm, but that is our reporting?
KIRBY: Again, I can’t confirm your reporting. There are safety protocols with all these kinds of engagements. The whole purpose of these missions are to keep Americans safe. That’s what was behind the president’s decision from the very, very beginning. Make sure that we’re keeping the skies safe for civilian air traffic.
These three objects were at altitudes that could potentially pose a risk to commercial air traffic, and also, they pose a potential surveillance risk to sensitive sites on the ground. It’s all about the safety and security of the American people. That always comes first with the president. That was behind these decisions, and that won’t change.
Kirby said there was nothing new to offer “operationally” since the White House press briefing on Monday.
We still have not located the debris from the three objects shot down over the weekend although there are intensive recovery operations under way to try to find, locate that, and then once it’s been located to try to recover that, but nothing to report.
Now on the spy balloon that was shot down a week or so ago, divers were able to get into the water over the course of the weekend and were able to recover a significant amount of debris, including some of the structure and some of the electronics. All that has been shipped off now with our FBI partners. We’re going to try to analyze that, see what we can learn.
When asked whether it will take them long to recover the downed surveillance balloon, Kirby said, “You know, when you do something like this, Don, you want to do it over areas where you’re not going to hurt people on the ground, which means it will be remote areas as best you can.
“Then just getting to those remote areas can be difficult, Don, particularly if you throw in not only the latitude at which these things are located, at least the first two but the weather conditions right now. It’s February and up near the arctic, the weather conditions are just not permissive for search and recovery operation,” he said.
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