Thanks to Detroit News for this:
An F-16 fighter jet shot down an unidentified object Sunday over Lake Huron on the U.S. side of the border with Canada that flew over Michigan and other parts of the country, the fourth incident over North American airspace during the past eight days, prompting one lawmaker to call the situation “disturbing.”
The object had passed over Wisconsin, Lake Michigan and the Upper Peninsula before it was shot down about 15 nautical miles east of the U.P. in Lake Huron, Pentagon officials said Sunday night. Once hit, they said, the object drifted and likely landed in Canadian waters in the lake, where the Coast Guard and others are working to recover it.
“This object flew over Michigan and other parts of the country,” said Rep. John Moolenaar, who represents part of the northern Lower Peninsula, in a statement. “I hope it will quickly be recovered and identified with more information made available to the public as soon as possible. I will continue to be in contact with officials at the Department of Defense to help ensure Michigan residents are safe.”
The Department of Defense said that at 2:42 p.m. Sunday, an F-16 from a Wisconsin Air National Guard unit in Madison fired an AIM9x Sidewinder missile to take down an “airborne object” flying at about 20,000 feet altitude in U.S. airspace over Lake Huron in Michigan.
“Its path and altitude raised concerns, including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation,” a Pentagon statement said. “The location chosen for this shootdown 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 defense department said it did not assess the object to be a “kinetic military threat to anything on the ground” but deemed it a flight safety hazard and a threat “due to its potential surveillance capabilities.”
The U.S. military on Saturday night had scrambled F-15 fighters to investigate an unknown object picked up by radar that crossed from Canadian to U.S. airspace around 6 p.m., but they couldn’t locate it, said Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, who briefed reporters.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) detected an object again Sunday morning and tracked it both visually and via radar, according to the defense department.
“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,” the Pentagon said.
VanHerck said the military was “cleared to engage the target” in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan while it was over land but that it was shot down over the lake.
Unlike the Chinese surveillance balloon, Pentagon officials refused to categorize the object shot down Sunday over Lake Huron on Sunday as a balloon. VanHerck, the NORAD commander, declined Sunday night to share the shape of the airborne object but said it’s much smaller than the Chinese balloon. They don’t know what its propulsion system is.
When asked by a reporter whether the Pentagon had ruled out aliens or extraterrestrials, VanHerck said no.
“I haven’t ruled out anything at this point,” he replied. “We continue to assess every threat or potential threat unknown that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it.”
VanHerck stressed the military has taken “extreme caution” with the shootdowns to limit collateral damage and on Sunday worked with the Federal Aviation Administration to first clear the airspace. He also gave the direction specifically to the pilots to watch for mariners below and for other aircraft in the area.
VanHerck said they’re not currently tracking any other objects, but he believed the recent shootdowns were the first time within U.S. airspace that NORAD or U.S. Northern Command had taken “kinetic action” against an airborne object.