Balloon debris recovered off the coast of Alaska earlier this month appears to have been in the water for “well over a year,” a Pentagon official said Friday. 

The remnants of the object were discovered by commercial fishermen, who notified the FBI of their find before bringing it back to shore. 

“Initial inspection of the balloon debris indicates that the material has been in the ocean for well over a year,” a spokesperson for the Department of Defense told reporters

“Some material has been transferred to US government facilities for further examination and analysis,” the official added. 

Earlier this month, the Pentagon described the fishermen’s find as a “large balloon and payload.” 

Last February, the US Air Force shot a Chinese spy balloon out of the sky over South Carolina after it floated across the country for several days, making national headlines and sparking national security fears.

The 200-foot-tall craft made multiple passes over key US military installations before it was shot down.

President Biden described the Chinese balloon’s payload as “two boxcars full of spy equipment” and faced intense criticism from Republicans, who argued that it should’ve been brought down sooner. 

The Pentagon determined that the balloon did not transmit data back to China as it floated over the US, and said steps were taken to “mitigate the potential collection efforts.”

Several other unidentified objects were shot down over the US and Canada, including over Alaska, in the weeks following the downing of the Chinese balloon. 

Debris from those objects were never recovered, and Biden, 81, said they were not believed to be linked to China.

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