The U.S. military shot down another high-altitude object on Sunday, downing it over Lake Huron, Pentagon officials confirmed.
The Associated Press, The New York Times and CNN cited U.S. officials who confirmed that the object had been downed over North American airspace. It marked the third consecutive day that an object has been shot down over North America.
Update 8:03 p.m. EST Feb. 12: The objects that have been shot down over North American airspace since Friday were taken down out of an “abundance of a caution,” a government spokesperson said.
“In light of the People’s Republic of China balloon that we took down last Saturday, we have been more closely scrutinizing our airspace at these altitudes, including enhancing our radar, which may at least partly explain the increase in objects that we detected over the past week,” Melissa Dalton, the assistant secretary of Defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, told reporters Sunday evening. “Because we have not yet been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are, we have acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and interests.
“The spy balloon from the PRC was, of course, different in that we knew precisely what (it) was. These most recent objects do not pose a kinetic military threat, but their path in proximity to sensitive DoD sites and the altitude that they were flying could be a hazard to civilian aviation and thus raised concerns.”
Update 5:55 p.m. EST Feb. 12: In a statement, the Pentagon confirmed that an F-16 fighter jet shot down an unidentified airborne object located over Lake Huron.
While officials said the object was not believed to be a military threat, its altitude of 20,000 feet was deemed to be a hazard for commercial flights.
“We did not assess it to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground, but assess it was a safety flight hazard and a threat due to its potential surveillance capabilities,” the Pentagon said in its statement. “Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more.”
President Biden was briefed on the situation and ordered the object to be shot down, the Pentagon said.
Update 4:55 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted that the object had been “swiftly, safely and securely taken down.”
Michigan Rep. John James also tweeted that he had been contacted by Defense Department officials.
“I received a call today from the @DeptofDefense today regarding operations over the Great Lakes region,” James wrote. “Moments ago the U.S. military shot down another “high altitude object” over Lake Huron & continues to monitor the situation.”
Original report: According to the Times, the Pentagon used an F-16 fighter but took down the object with a Sidewinder air-to-air missile. That was the same weapon used on the other three objects that have been shot down this month. The Wall Street Journal, citing a congressional aide, reported that the item was shaped like an octagon and was at an altitude of 20,000 feet. That would pose a hazard to commercial aircraft travel.
U.S. and Canadian authorities restricted some airspace above the lake earlier Sunday as aircraft attempted to intercept and identify the object, the AP reported.
“The U.S. military has decommissioned another ‘object’ over Lake Huron,” Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., tweeted. “I appreciate the decisive action by our fighter pilots. The American people deserve far more answers than we have.”
Military aircraft shot down an unidentified object over the Yukon Territory on Saturday, a day after another object was downed over northeastern Alaska by F-22 jet fighters.
Earlier Sunday, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., tweeted that she had received a call from Defense Department officials. Slotkin said that U.S. military officials had “an extremely close eye” on the object, which was above Lake Huron.
“Just got a call from @DeptofDefense -- our military has an extremely close eye on the object above Lake Huron,” Slotkin tweeted. “We’ll know more about what this was in the coming days, but for now, be assured that all parties have been laser-focused on it from the moment it traversed our waters.”
On Feb. 4, a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down by F-22s off the coast of South Carolina after drifting across the country for several days.
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