The US military has failed to detect at least three Chinese spy balloon flights over the United States in recent years, but that does not represent an intelligence failure, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. General Pat Ryder told a news conference that the United States has collected extensive information on Chinese surveillance balloons over time and will be able to detect them in the future.

Ryder said that «in terms of monitoring and collecting them, we’ve been able to put together a body of knowledge that allows us to detect and act on them.»

“It was not an intelligence failure,” Ryder said.

Ryder accused China of violating the sovereign airspace of the US and other countries with what he called a global spy balloon program, but declined to provide further details about previous incursions by Chinese aircraft over the US.

US officials previously said there were at least three Chinese balloon flights over US soil during the previous Trump administration and another during the Biden administration.

Ryder did not elaborate on the routes of those flights or other information, but said some of those sightings were later determined by the US government to be high-altitude Chinese spy balloons.

«What we do know is that in some cases, while some of these balloons had not been previously identified, subsequent analysis, subsequent intelligence analysis, allowed us to indicate that these were Chinese balloons,» Ryder said.

He added: “We have publicly acknowledged that we know they were looking to police strategic sites, to include some of our strategic bases in the continental United States.”

Ryder repeated the administration’s depiction of the Chinese balloon program as a global operation with a fleet of surveillance balloons sighted in North America, Latin America, South America, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Europe. But he declined to offer any further details, including whether the balloons have flown over or near US military sites abroad.

Asked if the balloons flying in other parts of the world are similar to the one shot down last week off the coast of South Carolina, Ryder said the balloons are all intelligence-gathering surveillance aircraft, but they vary in size and ability.

US Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command, said Monday that the Chinese balloon threats were not detected by EE. .

“I will tell you that we did not detect those threats. And that is a domain awareness gap that we have to address,” VanHerck said.

A fighter jet passes a large balloon off the South Carolina coast on Saturday.Chad Fish via AP

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking at a news conference Wednesday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said he hoped the administration would have more information to share soon about China’s surveillance balloon program.

“We will have more to say about it in the coming days. We are receiving more information almost every hour as we continue to work to save the balloon,” Blinken said, referring to an effort to recover debris from the downed balloon in the Atlantic.

The Biden administration is working to declassify US intelligence that includes details of China’s flying surveillance balloons over dozens of other countries around the world, NBC News reported Tuesday, citing three administration officials.

Alexandra Cod and abigail williams contributed.