Officials say object dropped over Lake Huron likely landed in Canadian waters

The US Air Force general overseeing North American airspace said a recovery effort would be launched to learn more about an octagonal object shot down by fighter jets over Lake Huron, a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon. The latest incident has since put North American security forces on high alert. ,

General Glenn VanHerk, head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command, said the object was likely to fall in Canadian waters.

At the behest of President Joe Biden, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Patrick Ryder said in an official statement. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted that airmen from the 148th Fighter Wing, an Air National Guard fighter unit in Duluth, Minn., shot down the object.

Although it did not pose a military threat, the object could potentially interfere with domestic air traffic as it was traveling at 6,100 metres, and could have surveillance capabilities.

US and Canadian authorities restricted some airspace over the lake early Sunday as planes tried to intercept and identify the object.

US officials identified an object as a Chinese surveillance balloon and shot it down off the coast of South Carolina on 4 February.

VanHerk said the military hasn’t been able to identify what the three most recent objects are since then, how they stay aloft, or where they’re coming from.

“We’re calling them objects, not balloons, for a reason,” he said.

WATCH: Politicians seek clarity from military officials on latest items:

Unidentified object shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday

A fourth unidentified object flying over North America was shot out of the sky on Sunday, this time over Lake Huron, as investigators searched for debris from one that downed Saturday over the Yukon.

The list includes an object dropped on the Yukon on Saturday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described a day later as a “threat to civil aviation and a potential danger to Canadians”.

Trudeau said he ordered the object shot down and that a US F-22 destroyed it at 3:41 PM ET.

Also, on Friday, a US F-22 fighter jet shot down an unidentified object said to be the size of a small car near Deadhorse, Alaska.

More Monitoring, More Things

Officials say a key change that explained the recent flurry was to NORAD’s filters, which allow them to detect objects moving slowly and at varying altitudes without specifying them.

“We are scrutinizing our airspace more closely at these altitudes, including increasing our radar,” said Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense, which may at least partially explain the increase. “

US officials have made it clear that they constantly monitor for unidentified radar blips, and it is not unusual for airspace to be closed as a precaution to evaluate them. But the unusually vocal response was raising questions about whether such use of force was necessary, especially after administration officials said the items were not of major national security concern and Downings was just out of caution.

“I believe this is the first time within the United States or within American airspace that NORAD or the United States Northern Command has taken kinetic action against an aerial object,” VanHerk said.

Beijing said on Monday it had no information about the latest three items. The Chinese government said the balloon downed from the Carolinas was a civilian research craft that flew by mistake, and accused the United States of overreacting.

Beijing allegation short on specifics

China also said that US high-altitude balloons have flown in its airspace more than 10 times since the beginning of 2022 without permission.

“Since last year, US high-altitude balloons made more than 10 illegal flights over Chinese airspace without approval from relevant Chinese departments,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a routine briefing in Beijing in response to a question. Are.”

Wang did not specifically describe the balloons as being for military or espionage purposes and did not provide further details.

Asked how China responded to such an intrusion into its airspace, Wang said its response had been “responsible and professional”.

The US did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A growing diplomatic row since the initial balloon sighting has led to the United States postponing a visit to Beijing by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

British Transport Minister Richard Holden said on Monday it was “possible” that China had flown spy balloons over the United Kingdom.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain would review its security in the skies.

“This development is another sign of how the global threat picture is changing for the worse,” Wallace said.

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