(AP) — A US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” over Lake Huron on Sunday on orders from President Joe Biden.
It’s believed to be the same one tracked over Montana and monitored by the government beginning the night before, the Pentagon said.
It was the fourth object shot out of the sky by US fighter jets in eight days, along with ones over Alaska and Canada and a suspected Chinese spy balloon. Pentagon officials have said they don’t know when the last shootdown of an unknown or unauthorised object over US territory occurred before this spate of incidents.
US authorities have made clear that they constantly monitor for unknown radar blips, and it is not unusual to shut down airspace as a precaution to evaluate them. But the unusually assertive response was raising questions about whether such use of force was warranted, particularly as administration officials said the objects were not of great national security concern and the downings were just out of caution.
The extraordinary air defence activity began in late January, when a white orb the officials said was from China appeared over the US and hovered above the nation for days before fighter jets downed it off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That event played out over livestream. Since, then many Americans have been captivated by the drama playing out in the skies as fighter jets scramble to shoot down objects.
The latest brought down was first detected on Saturday evening over Montana, but it was initially thought to be an anomaly. Radar picked it up again Sunday hovering over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it was going over Lake Huron, according to US officials, who had knowledge of the downings and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operations.
US and Canadian authorities had restricted some airspace over the lake earlier Sunday as planes were scrambled to intercept and try to identify the object. It was octagonal, with strings hanging off, but had no discernable payload. It was flying low at about 20,000 feet, according to one of the officials.
Trudeau: US fighter shot down object over Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday that on his order a US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” that was flying high over northern Canada, acting a day after the US took similar action over Alaska
Meanwhile, US officials were still trying to precisely identify two other objects shot down by F-22 fighter jets, and were working to determine whether China was responsible as concerns escalated about what Washington said was Beijing’s large-scale aerial surveillance program.
An object shot down Saturday over Canada’s Yukon was described by US officials as a balloon significantly smaller than the balloon — the size of three school buses — hit by a missile on February 4. A flying object brought down over the remote northern coast of Alaska on Friday was more cylindrical and described as a type of airship.
Both were believed to have a payload, either attached or suspended from them, according to the officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. Officials were not able to say who launched the objects and were seeking to figure out their origin.