On orders from President Joe Biden, a US F-16 fighter jet downed a second flying object over Lake Huron on Sunday afternoon, according to the Pentagon. According to Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, the item was classified as a flying hazard rather than a military threat.
“We determined it to be a safety flying hazard and a threat due to its possible surveillance capabilities, but we did not determine it to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground. To learn more, our team will now work to recover the object, said Ryder.
The objects were hauled down out of “an abundance of caution,” Melissa Dalton, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs told reporters Sunday night.
Dalton said, referring to a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that F-22s shot down off the coast of South Carolina last weekend: “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 partially explain the increase in objects that we detected over the past week.”
A variety of businesses, nations, and research institutions can deploy high-altitude objects for “purposes that are not malevolent, including genuine study,” she continued.
With this operation, an unidentified flying object was shot down over North American airspace three days in succession. On Saturday, an unknown object was shot down over northern Canada. A US F-22 downed an unidentified object on Friday in Alaskan airspace.
The surveillance balloon from the PRC was unique in that we knew exactly what it was, according to Dalton. “These most recent objects do not provide a kinetic military danger, but their flight path’s proximity to important DoD locations and the height at which they were flying prompted concerns.”
According to Ryder, the item shot down on Sunday was the same one radar had picked up above Montana on Saturday, causing airspace to close in the late afternoon momentarily.
“North American Aerospace Defense Command detected the object Sunday morning and has maintained visual and radar tracking of it. Based on its flight path and data, we can reasonably connect this object to the radar signal picked up over Montana, which flew in proximity to sensitive DOD sites,” he said.
20,000 feet over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the item was soaring; a senior administration official told CNN on Sunday. According to the official and another source briefed on the situation, it was “octagonal” in shape, had strings falling off of it, and had no obvious payload.
The official said the object did not constitute a military threat to anyone on the ground, despite fears about its path and height that it would threaten civilian aircraft.
Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan said Sunday that the operation to down the object over Lake Huron was carried out by pilots from the US Air Force and the National Guard.
Take a look at the tweet:
The object has been downed by pilots from the US Air Force and National Guard. Great work by all who carried out this mission both in the air and back at headquarters. We’re all interested in exactly what this object was and it’s purpose. 1/ https://t.co/LsjwtjntCv
— Rep. Elissa Slotkin (@RepSlotkin) February 12, 2023
Great effort was made by everyone involved in completing this mission, both in the air and at headquarters. She tweeted that we’re all curious about what this device was and what it was used for. After the incident, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer claimed to have spoken with the federal government.
“Our national security and safety is always a top priority. I’ve contacted 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,” the Democrat tweeted. “The @MINationalGuard stands ready.”
Take a look at the tweet:
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. The @MINationalGuard stands ready.
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) February 12, 2023