The US military on Sunday shot down an unidentified flying object over Lake Huron in Michigan on Sunday, marking the fourth time this month the fighter jets took down suspicious airships over the US skies..
According to the Defense Department, an F-16 fired an AIM 9X missile to shoot down the airborne object after its flight path and altitude raised concerns, 'including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation.' The airship was flying at an altitude of about 20,000 feet over Michigan's Upper Peninsula when it was shot down.
"The location chosen for this shoot down afforded us the opportunity to avoid impact to people on the ground while improving chances for debris recovery. There are no indications of any civilians hurt or otherwise affected," the officials said in a statement.
Small Metallic Balloon with a Tethered Payload
Meanwhile, the US revealed that the unidentified objects that were shot down earlier in the week over Canada and Alaska were balloons that carried a payload.
The US officials described the airship as "small metallic balloon with a tethered payload," FOX News reported. The airship's origin is unknown at the moment, and efforts are being made to recover its debris, the officials said.
On February 11, the US military shot down a high altitude object hovering over Alaska, a week after a massive Chinese balloon was taken down off the coast of South Carolina after raising fears of spying by the Communist rival. The object, which was the size of a car, was flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet and posed significant risk to civilian flight operations, the National Security Council concluded. The object was shot down on the orders of President Joe Biden, who later described the operation as a 'success'.
"The Department of Defense was tracking a high-altitude object over Alaska airspace in the last 24 hours ... Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of the Pentagon, President Biden ordered the military to down the object, and they did. And it came inside our territorial waters â€" and those waters right now are frozen â€" but inside territorial airspace and over territorial waters. Fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command took down the object within last hour," John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said.
Last week, the US Airforce F-22 fighter jet shot down a Chinese spy balloon that floated across American airspace. The balloon was taken down eight days after it first crossed the US border. Debris of the balloon and its payload were salvaged off the coast of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.
Though China reiterated that the airship was meant for weather research and it accidentally drifted into the US territory, the US holds the view that it was a sophisticated spy ship with advanced tech to monitor US military installations. The balloon had traversed the breadth of the country, hovering over territories that host many of the secret US military sites.