(Headline USA) Joe Biden ordered an “unidentified object” be shot down with a missile by U.S. fighter jets Sunday over Lake Huron, and it was believed to be the same one tracked over Montana and monitored by the government beginning the night before, U.S. officials said.
The downing came after earlier objects over Alaska and Canada were shot out of the sky.
It was extraordinary that four objects were shot out of the sky by U.S. fighter jets in eight days. Pentagon officials have said they don’t know when the last shootdown of an unknown or unauthorized object over U.S. territory occurred.
The latest object 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.
U.S. and Canadian authorities had restricted some airspace over the lake earlier Sunday as planes were scrambled to intercept and try to identify the object. The latest object was octagonal, with strings hanging off, but had no discernable payload. It was flying low at about 20,000 feet, according to one senior U.S. official.
U.S. officials were still trying to precisely identify the other two objects blown from the sky by F-22 fighter jets over the past two days. They also were working to determine whether China was responsible as concerns escalated about what Washington said was Beijing’s large-scale aerial surveillance program.
The object shot down Saturday over Canada’s Yukon was described by U.S. officials as a balloon significantly smaller than the balloon — the size of three school buses — hit by a missile Feb. 4 while drifting off the South Carolina coast after traversing the country. 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.
Eight days ago, F-22 jets downed the large white balloon that had wafted over the U.S. for days at an altitude of about 60,000 feet.
Then, on Friday, North American Aerospace Defense Command, the combined U.S.-Canada organization that provides shared defense of airspace over the two nations, detected and shot down an object near sparsely populated Deadhorse, Alaska.
Later that evening, NORAD detected a second object, flying at a high altitude over Alaska, U.S. officials said. It crossed into Canadian airspace on Saturday and was over the Yukon, a remote territory, when it was ordered shot down by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press