The US military shot down another one on Sunday unidentified objectthis time over the Great Lakes region, federal and state officials said Sunday.
A congressional source briefed on the matter told CBS News that the Defense Department is confident there was no collateral damage. Later on Sunday, the Ministry of Defense confirmed that there was no collateral damage.
February 11, USA shot down a balloon over the coast of South Carolina which swept across the US for several days. This balloon comes from China and the US has claimed it wore surveillance equipment. China insisted that the balloon was an airship that went off course and that the US “overreacted” by shooting it down.
Sunday’s downing was the third unidentified object shot down over the United States and Canada in three days. US officials shot down a “high-altitude object“flying over Alaska on Friday and an unidentified object was located beaten by Canada on Saturday.
Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for national defense and hemispheric affairs, said Sunday that the recent objects do not pose a kinetic military threat, but their path and proximity to sensitive DoD facilities, as well as the altitude at which they flew, may be a danger to civil aviation.
Both Dalton and Gen. Glenn VanHerk, commander of the US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORTHCOM/NORAD), said the US military was unable to identify what the objects were. When asked by reporters if these objects could be extraterrestrials, VanHerk said they “do not rule anything out.”
Dalton said that since the original Chinese spy ball was spotted, the US has been studying high-altitude airspace more closely, including improving radar.
A senior Biden administration official said NORTHCOM/NORAD detected another radar contact over Montana on Saturday. On Sunday, NORTHCOM/NORAD received radar contact again and discovered that the unmanned object from Montana was over Wisconsin and Michigan. VanHerk said it was likely, but not yet confirmed, that it was the same object over Montana and the Great Lakes region.
The facility was about 20,000 feet above Lake Huron, a senior administration official said.
The object’s path and height raised concerns, an administration official said, and out of an abundance of caution, President Biden ordered it shot down. There was no indication that the object had surveillance capabilities, but it cannot be ruled out, the official said. It was not assessed as a military threat to anything on the ground, the official added.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the Michigan National Guard was “ready” and that it had been in contact with the federal government about the facility.
“I was in contact with the Department of Defense today regarding operations in the Great Lakes region,” tweeted Rep. Jack Bergman, who represents Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and other northern parts of the state. “US military decommissions another ‘facility’ over Lake Huron”.
A spokeswoman, Alice Slotkin, said that “the object was shot down by Air Force and US National Guard pilots.”
“We are all interested in what exactly this object was and its purpose,” Slotkin wrote on Twitter. “As long as these things continue to pass through the United States and Canada, I will continue to ask Congress for a full briefing based on our exploitation of the wreckage.”
On Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily closed some airspace in Montana for “DoD operations” starting at about 4:20 p.m. PT for about an hour.
NORAD later said in a statement that the shutdown was due to the discovery of a “radar anomaly” and that NORAD had “sent a fighter jet to investigate.” However, the aircraft “did not detect any object that could be correlated with a radar hit.”
Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand tweeted on Sunday that they “unequivocally support this action.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told “This week” on Sunday that it was “wild” that the US did not know about these balloons until now.
“They’re learning a lot more now,” Schumer said. “The military and intelligence are focused like a laser, first on gathering and accumulating information, and then on a comprehensive analysis of what happened before, what is happening now and what may happen in the future. You can be sure that if any American interests or people are threatened, they will take appropriate action.”
— Eleanor Watson, Faris Tanios, Rebecca Kaplan, Christine Brown and Nancy Cordes contributed to this report.