On Sunday, a U.S. military fighter jet shot down an octagonal object above Lake Huron, according to the Pentagon. This is the fourth such instance in just over a week of a flying object being taken down by U.S. missiles over North America. Despite attempts to identify these objects, the military has yet to determine what they are, how they are staying aloft, or their source.
General Glen VanHerck, the head of North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) and Northern Command, stated that they are referred to as “objects” instead of “balloons” for a reason. When asked if he has ruled out the possibility of extraterrestrial origin, he stated that he hasn’t ruled out anything yet and will let the intelligence community figure it out.
On President Biden’s orders, the U.S. F-16 fighter shot down the object at 2:42 PM local time due to the potential interference it could cause with domestic air traffic. The object was travelling at 20,000 feet and might have had surveillance capabilities. Despite not posing a military threat, the Pentagon intends to recover the object in an attempt to learn more about it.
The incident has raised questions about the recent spate of unusual objects appearing in North American skies and heightened tensions with China. U.S. officials have identified the first object as a Chinese surveillance balloon, which was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4th. Another object was shot down over the sea ice near Deadhorse, Alaska, and a third was destroyed over Canada’s Yukon.
The security of citizens is a top priority, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The appearance of a 200-foot-tall Chinese airship earlier this month has made North America cautious of aerial intrusions. The Chinese balloon, which the U.S. has accused of being used for surveillance, resulted in an international incident and caused Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a planned trip to China.
The U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer believes two of the objects were smaller balloons, while the White House stated that the recently shot-down objects “did not closely resemble” the Chinese balloon. The administration will not definitively characterize them until they can recover the debris, which is currently underway.
Recovery efforts by Canadian counterparts for the object shot down over the Yukon may face challenges as the region is sparsely populated and borders Alaska. Despite the harsh winter conditions, unusually mild temperatures could ease recovery. Republicans have criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the situation, suggesting they are being overcompensatory for their previous lax monitoring of American airspace.