US F-16 fighter shoots down object near Canadian border
The US military has shot down an octagonal object over Lake Huron near the Canadian border, the fourth object downed this month as North American security forces remain on high alert for airborne threats.
Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the military had shot down the object but declined to say whether it resembled the large white Chinese balloon that was downed earlier in February.
The Pentagon said a US F-16 fighter jet shot down the latest unidentified object at the direction of President Joe Biden.
A senior US official said the object had an octagonal structure with no discernible payload, a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.
The US has no indication the object posed a military threat or had surveillance capabilities.
Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the object was not assessed to be a military threat, but it was a flight hazard.
“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. Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more,” he said.
The object was recently detected over Montana, prompting the closure of US airspace.
It was the fourth unidentified flying object to be destroyed over North America this month, straining US relations with China.
Officials said the latest object was shot down using a Sidewinder missile in US airspace at an altitude of 6100 metres, where it could have potentially interfered with domestic air traffic.
US Representative Elissa Slotkin, who represents a district in Michigan near where the incident took place, said pilots from the US Air Force and National Guard shot down the object.
“Great work by all who carried out this mission,” she wrote on Twitter.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she had been in contact with the federal government after the takedown.
“Our national security and safety is always a top priority. I’ve been in contact with the federal government and our partners who were tracking an object near our airspace. I’m glad to report it has been swiftly, safely, and securely taken down,” she tweeted.
“The National Guard stands ready.”
The first object was a balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.
On Friday, a second object was shot down over sea ice near Deadhorse, Alaska. A third object was destroyed over Canada’s Yukon on Saturday, with investigators still hunting for the wreckage.
“Recovery teams are on the ground, looking to find and analyse the object,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday.
“The security of citizens is our top priority and that’s why I made the decision to have that unidentified object shot down,” he said, adding that it had posed a danger to civilian aircraft.