Flying intruder threat from China is scary, but Biden won’t talk about it

American fighter pilots spent the weekend shooting down hostile objects and President Joe Biden had nothing to say about it. Four shootdowns in ten days tells me there is an urgent need for a complete review and overhaul of North American air defenses. It’s time to prepare the USA for defense against intruders from China.

The chilling fact is that Team Biden can’t say who sent those three intruding objects over the U.S. and Canada, or where their flight paths started.

“We don’t have attribution,” Kirby said Monday at the White House. Those are dismaying words. No wonder President Biden hasn’t appeared in person. Instead, an interagency study team led by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will look at last weekend’s intruders, plus scads of other unidentified aerial phenomenon, and determine policy responses.

Oh, great.


The potential threat to U.S. national security from leaky air defenses is serious. Time was, in the 1950s and 1960s, America had hundreds of jet interceptors guarding our nation. That dwindled to just a handful of sites after the Cold War. After the chaos of 9/11, homeland air defense was improved, but experts feel it has never been adequately funded.

Uncomfortable as this is to say, I think most Americans have figured out by now that it is not easy to track slow-moving, intruder objects in U.S. airspace. Credit goes to Gen. VanHerck, who is Commander, Northern Command. His team did a great job readjusting radars and requiring the track of the object shot down Sunday, after it slipped through their fingers for a while Saturday night. VanHerck has also been willing to brief repeatedly and explain as best he could.

Remember NORAD was set up in 1958 to track Soviet bombers or intercontinental ballistic missiles. Bombers and missiles are hot, metallic, fast-moving objects. Since North American air defenses were not designed for leisurely, drifting balloons and other objects, let’s get Gen. VanHerck and his command what they need to improve their tracking.

I’m not impressed with the tight-lipped White House. “Slow-moving objects with small radar cross-sections are hard to detect,” Kirby said. True, but he made it sound like pilot eyeballs were the only sensors up there. The F-22s, F-16s Canadian CF-18s and other fighters all carry radar, infrared and other sensors. Plus, we have lots of our own satellites overhead managed by U.S. Space Force and by the intelligence community. I guarantee you the visual pass by the pilots was not the sole source of information.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the White House to tell us who did it. Kirby said U.S. and Canadian teams are working over the crash sites, but emphasized the “ice, wilderness and all of that” will make recovery difficult. Heck, one of the objects is at the bottom of Lake Huron.

Although we know China sent the big balloon, it seems to me the Biden administration is bending over backwards not to link China to the three “objects.”

However, the problem of rude Chinese action is well-established by their behavior in the space domain. Just last October, China launched a Long March rocket booster and let it re-enter Earth’s atmosphere without sharing data on the trajectory and landing zone. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called it an “unnecessary risk” amidst global complaints. Turns out China’s done that with space boosters four times since 2020.

Frankly, China’s record of blatant disregard for space and on-orbit etiquette could be a model for the way they run their global high-altitude surveillance program. It’s no stretch for me to believe China would send objects to ride the winds over sensitive U.S. and Canadian sites, days after their big balloon transit. Don’t forget Chinese aircraft bust through the air identification space around Taiwan and Japan on a regular basis.

What do you expect from Xi Jinping and his crew who have a best friends, no-limits alliance with Russia? Sadly, America’s official policy toward China is “invest, align and compete” and here I am quoting Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

By the way, China still won’t speak to Secretary of Defense Austin, Kirby said. That’s scary.

“We’re sort of in uncharted territory here,” said Kirby.

I’d say this is a good week for President Biden to announce more defensive arms sales to Taiwan, up to and including the F-35 multirole stealth fighter. And every CEO with business in China should be convening a strategy meeting to consider other options. The days of “peaceful rise” by China are over.

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