(FreedomBeacon.com)- On Monday, the Pentagon admitted that it failed to detect the Chinese spy balloons that entered US airspace during the Trump administration.
After F-22 jets from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia shot down the Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina Saturday afternoon, a Pentagon official said during an off-camera press briefing that at least three Chinese spy balloons traveled over the US during the previous administration.
The Pentagon’s claim was quickly refuted by several prominent former Trump administration officials, including former national security advisors John Bolton and Robert O’Brien, former DNI Richard Grennel, and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, as well as former President Trump, according to Fox News.
During a Pentagon press briefing on Monday, NORAD commander Gen. Glen VanHerck admitted that NORAD “did not detect those threats.” VanHerck blamed the failure on a “domain awareness gap” that NORAD will “have to figure out.”
VanHerck explained that the intelligence community gathered evidence about the other balloons “after the fact.”
According to a report in the New York Times, several officials said one possible explanation for why the previous spy balloons weren’t detected is that they were initially classified as “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or UAP, which is how Pentagon classifies UFOs.
Over the last two years as the Pentagon and intelligence agencies began stepping up their efforts to investigate UAPs, officials reclassified them as Chinese spy balloons, the Times reported.
According to the officials who spoke with the New York Times, when officials determined that the craft were spy balloons and not UAPs, the information was kept secret to avoid China from realizing that its surveillance efforts were uncovered.
On Monday, national security advisor Jake Sullivan said the reason last week’s balloon was able to be detected was that the Biden administration “enhanced our capacity” to detect things “the Trump administration was unable to detect.”