House Intel Chairman: 'We Need to Invest…We Don't Really Have Adequate Radar Systems'

The Chinese spy balloon that drifted over the U.S. until the Air Force shot it down on Feb. 4. (Photo: Screen capture)

( – Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on Sunday he has no idea what “objects” the U.S. shot down over the weekend.

As of early Monday morning, the U.S. Air Force had shot down four objects: One, a huge Chinese spy balloon, came down a week ago Saturday off the coast of South Carolina. Then, three much smaller, mysterious “objects” were shot down, one over the northern coast of Alaska on Friday, one over northern Canada on Saturday, and one over Lake Huron on Sunday.

“As I was saying, I would prefer them to be trigger-happy than to be permissive,” Turner told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“But we’re going to have to see whether or not this is just the administration trying to change headlines. But what I think this shows, which is probably more important to our policy discussion here, is that we really have to declare that we’re going to defend our airspace.

“And then we need to invest. What’s become clear in the public discussion is that we don’t really have adequate radar systems. We certainly don’t have an integrated missile defense system. We’re going to have to begin to look at the United States’ airspace as one that we need to defend and that we need to have appropriate sensors to do so.

“This shows some of the problems and gaps that we have. We need to fill those as soon as possible, because we certainly now ascertain there is a threat.”

Turner said the Biden administration needs to “declare that it will defend its airspace,” and he said its “particularly annoying” that the Biden administration has not been forthcoming with information about the latest flying objects:

“The Biden administration needs to stop briefing Congress through our television sets and actually come and sit down and brief us. What we’re seeing here is a number of announcements by the administration without any real information being given to Congress.

“This could be because they don’t have any information. From the press conference we saw, it does seem like they took this action without a real understanding for what they were going after, but having declared it a hazard. But we will see as the information comes to Congress.

“But I do think that there needs to be more engagement between the administration and Congress. Probably, they’re a little hesitant after the Chinese balloon fiasco, where they let it go across the country, to great criticism, bipartisan and bicameral criticism, from Congress.”

Turner said he thinks the objects flying into U.S. airspace are “certainly a new, recent development” that shows how “aggressive” China has become “in entering other countries’ airspace.”

He said the “scale” of the huge spy balloon and its technology was “unprecedented.”

“No other nation has anything like it and no other nation has attempted it. But, certainly, there are things at times that come and go from our airspace that we track, that we try to determine if it’s going to be a threat that don’t rise to the level of the very large, sophisticated Chinese spy balloon.”

Turner repeated that “the big point” is the need for investment (which means spending):

“We need more sophisticated radar systems. We have them. We just don’t have them deployed to protect high over the United States,” he said.

“An integrated missile defense system — we have helped invest in Israel having an integrated missile defense system. We don’t have one ourselves. This is a turning point where we need to discuss, this is a threat, and how do we respond to it?”