An object that could have posed a threat to aviation was shot down over Lake Huron today after being picked up on radar over Montana.
“Today at 2:42 p.m. ET, at the direction of President Biden, and based on the recommendations of Secretary Austin and military leadership, an F-16 fired an AIM9x to successfully shoot down an airborne object flying at approximately 20,000 feet altitude in U.S. airspace over Lake Huron in the State of Michigan,” the Defense Department said in a statement this evening. “Its path and altitude raised concerns, including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation.”
“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,” DoD continued. “North American Aerospace Defense Command detected the object Sunday morning and has maintained visual and radar tracking of it. 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.”
“We did not assess it to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground, but assess it was a safety flight hazard and a threat due to its potential surveillance capabilities. Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more.”
On Saturday, the Defense Department and White House said NORAD and Canada took down another high-altitude object “out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of their militaries” after consultation between the countries’ leaders.
“The object was closely tracked and monitored by North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) over the last 24 hours and the President has been continually briefed by his national security team since the object was detected,” the White House said Saturday. “Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of their militaries, President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau authorized it to be taken down. President Biden authorized US fighter aircraft assigned to NORAD to conduct the operation and a US F-22 shot down the object in Canadian territory in close coordination with Canadian authorities.”
On Feb. 4, U.S. F-22 fighter aircraft, assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace. U.S. military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload.