US fighter jets shoot down ‘UFO’ over North America in fourth incident in eight days

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The US military briefly closed the airspace over Lake Michigan amid fears of possible foreign spying campaign

An unidentified flying object has been shot down with a missile by US fighter jets in the fourth incident of its kind this month.

President Joe Biden ordered the object to be downed near Lake Huron, close to the Canadian border, on Sunday afternoon (12 February). The object is believed to be the same one tracked over Montana and monitored by the government beginning the night before, US officials said.

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A Pentagon statement said the object could have interfered with commercial air traffic as it was travelling at 20,000ft (6,100m). The object was not deemed a military threat and has been described by defence officials as an unmanned “octagonal structure” with strings attached to it.

The US briefly closed the airspace over Lake Michigan on Sunday and on Saturday night over rural Montana. Officials confirmed on Sunday that they were no longer tracking any objects over those locations.

A US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” over Lake Huron on Sunday (Photo: Getty Images)A US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” over Lake Huron on Sunday (Photo: Getty Images)
A US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” over Lake Huron on Sunday (Photo: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

The downing comes after earlier objects in Alaska and Canada were shot out of the sky because they were flying at altitudes that posed a threat to commercial aircraft, according to the officials. It marked the fourth such downing in eight days and the latest military strike in an extraordinary chain of events over US airspace.

Part of the reason for the repeated shootdowns is a “heightened alert” following a spy balloon from China that emerged over US airspace in late January, General Glen VanHerck, head of Norad and US Northern Command, said in a briefing with reporters.

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Pentagon officials have said they do not know when the last shootdown of an unknown or unauthorised object over US territory occurred.

The latest object brought down was first detected on Saturday (1 February) over Montana, but it was initially thought to be an anomaly. Radar then picked it up again on Sunday hovering over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it was going over Lake Huron.

US and Canadian authorities earlier on Sunday restricted some airspace over the lake, near the Canadian border, as aircraft were scrambled to intercept and try to identify the object.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin tweeted that “the object has been downed by pilots from the US Air Force and National Guard”. The shootdown was confirmed by four US officials.

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The news comes as US officials were still trying to precisely identify the other two objects blown from the sky by F-22 fighter jets over the past two days, and were working to determine whether China was responsible, as concerns escalate about what Washington says is Beijing’s large-scale aerial surveillance programme.

The object shot down on Saturday over the Yukon was described by US officials as a balloon significantly smaller than the one hit by a missile on 4 February while drifting off the South Carolina coast after traversing the country.

A flying object brought down over the remote northern coast of Alaska on Friday (10 February) was more cylindrical and described as a type of airship. Both were believed to have a payload, either attached or suspended from them, according to the officials. Officials were not able to say who launched the objects and were trying to establish their origin.

US officials said the two more recent objects were much smaller in size, different in appearance and flew at lower altitudes than the suspected Chinese spy balloon that fell into the Atlantic after the US missile strike.

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They said the Alaska and Canada objects were not consistent with the fleet of Chinese aerial surveillance balloons that targeted more than 40 countries, stretching back at least into the Trump administration. The large white orb first appeared over the US in late January.

US authorities made clear that they constantly monitor for unknown radar blips and it is not unusual to shut down airspace as a precaution to evaluate them. Pentagon officials said the objects posed no security threats and the downings were just out of caution, but so little was known about them that Pentagon officials were ruling nothing out — not even UFOs.

General Glen VanHerck, head of Norad and US Northern Command, said in a briefing that the US adjusted its radar so it could track slower objects. He said: “With some adjustments, we’ve been able to get a better categorisation of radar tracks now and that’s why I think you’re seeing these, plus there’s a heightened alert to look for this information.”

He added: “I believe this is the first time within United States or American airspace that Norad or United States Northern Command has taken kinetic action against an airborne object.”

Asked if officials have ruled out extra-terrestrials, Mr VanHerck said: “I haven’t ruled out anything at this point.”

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