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The United States shoots down a mysterious object near the Canadian border

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By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – U.S. military fighter jets shot down an octagonal object over Lake Huron on Sunday, the Pentagon said, the latest incident since a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon put U.S. security forces on high alert.

It was the fourth flying object to be shot down over North America by a US missile in just over a week.

U.S. Air Force General Glen VanHerck, who is tasked with safeguarding U.S. airspace, told reporters the military hasn’t been able to identify what the three newest objects are, how they’re up, or where they’re from. they come.

“We call them objects, not balloons, for a reason,” said VanHerck, head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command.

VanHerck said he wouldn’t rule out aliens or any other explanation.

“I’m going to let the intelligence community and the counterintelligence community figure that out,” he said.

Another defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, later said the military had seen no evidence that the objects were extraterrestrial.

On orders from President Joe Biden, a US F-16 fighter jet shot down the object at 2:42 p.m. local time over Lake Huron on the US-Canadian border, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said. in an official statement.

While it posed no military threat, the object could have potentially interfered with domestic air traffic as it traveled at 20,000 feet (6,100m) and could have had surveillance capabilities, Ryder said.

The object appeared to have an octagonal structure, with hanging wires but no discernible payload, a US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The object was believed to be the same as one recently detected in Montana near sensitive military sites, causing US airspace to be closed, the Pentagon said. The military will try to recover the downed object over Lake Huron to find out more, VanHerck told reporters.

He said it probably went down in Canadian waters.

The incident has raised questions about the spate of unusual objects that have appeared in the skies over North America in recent weeks and has raised tensions with China.

“We need facts about their origin, what their purpose is and why their frequency is increasing,” said U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, one of several Michigan lawmakers who applauded the military for bringing down the object. .

US officials identified the first object as a Chinese surveillance balloon and shot it down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. On Friday, a second object came down on sea ice near Deadhorse, Alaska. And a third item was wrecked on the Yukon in Canada on Saturday, with investigators still searching for the wreckage.

“Citizens’ safety is our top priority and that is why I made the decision to have that unidentified object shot down,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Sunday.

North America has been on guard against aerial intrusions following the appearance of the eye-catching white Chinese airship in American skies earlier this month.

That 200-foot (60-meter) tall balloon — which Americans accused Beijing of using to spy on the United States — caused an international incident, leading Secretary of State Antony Blinken to call off a planned trip to China just hours before it was due to depart. .

Pentagon officials said they have been examining radars more closely since then.

Surveillance fears appear to have US officials on high alert.

Twice in 24 hours, US officials closed the airspace, only to quickly reopen it.

The Federal Aviation Administration briefly closed the space above Lake Michigan on Sunday. The US military dropped fighter planes into Montana on Saturday to investigate a radar anomaly.

China denies that the first balloon was used for surveillance and claims it was a civilian research aircraft. He condemned the United States for shooting it down off the coast of South Carolina last Saturday.

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told US broadcaster ABC that US officials think two of the latest objects were balloons smaller than the original one.

The White House said only that the recently downed objects “didn’t look much like” the Chinese balloon, echoing Schumer’s description of them as “much smaller.”

“We will not definitively characterize them until we can recover the debris, which we are working on,” a spokesman said.


Canadian counterparts trying to piece together what was downed on the Yukon may have their own challenges. The territory is a sparsely populated region in far northwest Canada, bordering Alaska. It can be brutally cold in the winter, but temperatures are unusually mild for this time of year, which could ease the recovery effort.

Republican Congressman Mike Turner, who sits on the US House Armed Services Committee, suggested the White House may be overcompensating for what he described as its previously lax monitoring of American airspace.

“They seem kind of trigger-happy,” Turner told CNN on Sunday. “I’d rather they were trigger happy than being permissive.”

Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for its handling of the raid of the suspected Chinese spy balloon, saying it should have been shot down much sooner.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa, David Shepardson and Andrea Shalal in Washington and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Screenplay by Andy Sullivan and Raphael Satter; Editing by Ross Colvin, Tim Ahmann and Lisa Shumaker)