US military shoots down high-altitude object near Lake Huron on Sunday

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43 min ago

NORAD assessed taking gunshots against objects was ‘unachievable’

From CNN’s Gregory Clary

The North American Aerospace Defense Command felt that taking gunshots at the objects shot down Saturday and Sunday, in an attempt to better preserve them for examination on the ground, was “unachievable,” in part due to the relatively small size of those objects.

“We assessed taking a gunshot yesterday in that event, as well as today, and the pilots in each situation felt that that was really unachievable because of the size, especially yesterday in the altitude and also because of the challenge to acquire it visually because it’s so small,” Gen. Glen VanHerck, the commander of NORAD and the US Northern Command, said Sunday.

VanHerck was also concerned for the safety of the pilots and anyone on the ground or on water.

“We have taken extreme caution to ensure that we limit potential collateral damage, so today, we worked closely with the FAA to clear out the airspace. I gave direction specifically to the pilots to use their visual acuity to check for mariners on the ground, airplanes in the air to clear with their radars as well. And when they were comfortable, that we can minimize collateral damage, they selected the best weapon today that was the AIM 9x (missile). And they took the shot,” VanHerck said.

US fighter jets shot down an airborne object over Lake Huron on Sunday and an unidentified object over northern Canada a day earlier.

1 hr 11 min ago

NORAD commander says military has still not recovered Alaska object

From CNN’s Gregory Clary

The US military has not recovered the object shot down over Alaska on Friday, Gen. Glen VanHerck, the commander of the US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, told reporters Sunday.

“We’re actively searching for that object right now. I’ve got a Navy P-8, which is surveilling the area, with helicopters as well. Once we locate that object, we’ll put an Arctic security package in there and begin the analysis and recovery, but we don’t have it right now,” VanHerck said.

A US F-22 fighter jet shot down a “high-altitude object” over frozen Arctic Ocean waters near the Canadian border, about 10 miles off the north coast of Alaska.

54 min ago

NORAD: Country of origin, shape or mechanics of three latest objects downed can’t be confirmed

From CNN’s Aaron Pellish

Gen. Glen VanHerck, Commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, attends a hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC, on March 1, 2022.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, Commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, attends a hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC, on March 1, 2022. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The US military does not have new information on the country of origin or the physical or mechanical properties of the three objects downed over North America in the past three days, Gen. Glen VanHerck, the commander of the US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, told reporters Sunday. 

“I’m not going to categorize them as balloons. We’re calling them objects for a reason,” VanHerck said when asked about the physical characteristics of the objects. 

“I’m not able to categorize how they stay aloft. It could be a gaseous type of balloon inside a structure or it could be some type of a propulsion system. But clearly, they’re — they’re able to stay aloft,” he added. 

VanHerck stressed that officials do not know the country of origin of the objects downed in recent days, distinguishing it from the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that the US military shot down off the coast of South Carolina last week.

“I would be hesitant and urge you not to attribute it to any specific country. We don’t know,” VanHerck said.

1 hr 15 min ago

Object spotted in Montana likely same object shot down over Lake Huron, military official says

From CNN’s Haley Britzky

Military officials believe the object shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday is likely the same object that was spotted over Montana on Saturday, Gen. Glen VanHerck, the commander of the US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), said on Sunday.

VanHerck told reporters that the object shot down Sunday was first spotted around 4:45 ET on Saturday afternoon. He scrambled F-15 fighters and a KC-135 tanker to go investigate, and the object crossed into US airspace a few hours later, he said.

“It’s likely, but we have not confirmed, that the track that we saw in Wisconsin was likely the same track in Montana,” VanHerck said.

“We monitored the track of interest as it passed over Lake Michigan. We assessed that it was no threat, physical threat, military threat … to critical infrastructure. That’s my assessment and continues to be today,” he added.

The object was shot down on Sunday, and recovery efforts with the US Coast Guard are ongoing, VenHerck said.

1 hr 37 min ago

Objects shot down posed no kinetic military threat, Pentagon says

From CNN’s Haley Britzky

The recent “objects” shot down in North American airspace since Friday were taken down out of an “abundance of caution,” Melissa Dalton, the assistant secretary of Defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, told reporters Sunday. 

“In light of the People’s Republic of China balloon that we took down last Saturday, we have been more closely scrutinizing our airspace at these altitudes, including enhancing our radar, which may at least partly explain the increase in objects that we detected over the past week,” Dalton said.

An airborne object was shot down Sunday near Lake Huron, marking the fourth time in roughly a week that US aircraft have shot something down in North American airspace. Dalton said high-altitude objects can be used by a range of companies, countries and research organizations for “purposes that are not nefarious, including legitimate research.” 

That was not the case, however, for China’s surveillance balloon that was shot down on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina.

“Because we have not yet been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are, we have acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and interests,” Dalton said. “The spy balloon from the PRC was, of course, different in that we knew precisely what [it] was. These most recent objects do not pose a kinetic military threat, but their path in proximity to sensitive DoD sites and the altitude that they were flying could be a hazard to civilian aviation and thus raised concerns.”

1 hr 36 min ago

Michigan lawmakers thank US military for operation over Lake Huron

From CNN’s Jack Forrest

Rep. Elissa Slotkin asks question during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on November 15, 2022.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin asks question during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on November 15, 2022. (Mariam Zuhaib/AP)

Federal and state lawmakers in Michigan on Sunday recognized the US military’s role in the takedown of an airborne object over Lake Huron earlier in the day.

“The object has been downed by pilots from the US Air Force and National Guard. Great work by all who carried out this mission both in the air and back at headquarters. We’re all interested in exactly what this object was and it’s purpose,” Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin said in a tweet.

The Pentagon confirmed Sunday that an F-16 fighter jet shot down the airborne object over Lake Huron in the afternoon. 

“I’ve been in contact with DOD regarding operations across the Great Lakes region today. The US military has decommissioned another ‘object’ over Lake Huron. I appreciate the decisive action by our fighter pilots. The American people deserve far more answers than we have,” Republican Rep. Jack Bergman tweeted.

Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, also addressed the operation Sunday, tweeting, “Our national security and safety is always a top priority. I’ve been in contact with the federal government and our partners who were tracking an object near our airspace. I’m glad to report it has been swiftly, safely, and securely taken down.”

“The @MINationalGuard stands ready,” Whitmer added.

The downed object marks the third one shot over North American airspace by the US military in as many days, and the fourth in just over a week.

3 hr 3 min ago

Pentagon confirms F-16 fighter jet shot down an airborne object over Lake Huron

From CNN’s Haley Britzky

The Pentagon confirmed Sunday that an F-16 fighter jet shot down an airborne object over Lake Huron earlier in the day. 

Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the object was not assessed to be a military threat, but it was a flight hazard.

“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,” Ryder said in a statement.

Ryder also said the object was the same one that radar detected on Saturday over Montana that caused airspace to briefly close Saturday evening.

“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,” he said.

3 hr 24 min ago

Canada ‘unequivocally supports’ shooting down the unidentified object, defense minister says

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said Sunday her country supported the shooting down of an object over US airspace by US fighter jets near Lake Huron. The object was flying at 20,000 feet over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when it was shot down.

“Today, a high-altitude object was detected in US airspace over Lake Huron,” Anand said. “NORAD launched Canadian and US aircraft to investigate and the object was taken down in US. airspace by US aircraft.”

“We unequivocally support this action, and we’ll continue to work with the US and NORAD to protect North America,” she said.

1 hr 50 min ago

House Intelligence chair says he prefers ‘trigger-happy’ approach with unidentified objects

From CNN’s Paul LeBlanc

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner speaks during an interview with CNN on Sunday, February 12.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner speaks during an interview with CNN on Sunday, February 12. (CNN)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner said Sunday he prefers how the US shot down unidentified objects over North American airspace in recent days to allowing them to traverse the country.

Later Sunday, a US fighter jet shot down an unidentified object near Lake Huron, marking the fourth time in a week that the US military has taken down objects in North American airspace. An unidentified object was shot down over northern Canada on Saturday, and on Friday, an unidentified object was shot down in Alaska airspace by a US F-22. A Chinese surveillance balloon was taken down by F-22s off the coast of South Carolina last weekend.

“I would prefer them to be trigger-happy than to be permissive, but we’re going to have to see whether or not this is just the administration trying to change headlines,” Turner, an Ohio Republican, said of the Biden administration in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” before Sunday’s shoot-down took place.

“What I think this shows, which is probably more important to our policy discussion here, is that we really have to declare that we’re going to defend our airspace. And then we need to invest,” added Turner. “This shows some of the problems and gaps that we have. We need to fill those as soon as possible because we certainly now ascertain there is a threat.”

There’s no indication at this point that the unidentified objects have any connection to China’s surveillance balloon but it seems that national security officials across the continent remain on edge.

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