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What we know about the unidentified object shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday

Posted at 5:45 AM, Feb 13, 2023

(WXYZ) — The U.S. military shot down what it's calling a "high altitude object" on Sunday over Lake Huron, just hours after airspace was closed over Lake Michigan.

On Sunday night, Department of Defense officials held a briefing to speak about their decision to shoot down the object over the lake.

It's the latest in a string of similar sightings and take-downs. The first happened two weeks ago when officials say a suspected Chinese spy balloon crossed into U.S. airspace and was later downed by a U.S. fighter jet.

The second object was seen over Alaska on Thursday and then shot down on Friday, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered a third high-altitude object over the Central Yukon to be taken down on Saturday.

Department of Defense officials say the object was shot down about 15 miles off-shore from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and recovery efforts are underway to retrieve the debris, which is likely in the Canadian waters of Lake Huron.

"I believe this is the first time within United States of America airspace that NORAA or the United States Northern Command has taken connetic action against an airborne object," Gen. Glen VanHerck, the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, said on Sunday night.

Fighters jets were scrambled on Sunday over Northern Michigan and the airspace was briefly shut down over northern Lake Michigan due to the object. The Michigan National Guard was also put on alert, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted out "our national security and safety is always our top priority."

President Joe Biden's administration released some information and described the object as an octagonal structure with strings hanging off of it and traveling around 20,000 feet in the air.

What they did not indicate was if the object had surveillance capabilities, but they're not ruling it out.

"We need to know where are they coming from, who is paying for them, who is being sponsored by them, is there a payload, what is the capability, what is the technology that's in it? Rep. Debbie Dingell said. "I think it's very important that we get the facts right now."

As of right now, there are a lot of questions, but Pentagon officials say the object was shot down out of an abundance of caution and because it was also low enough that it could have interfered with civilian airspace activities. Officials also say they have been paying closer attention to the air space after the alleged Chinese spy balloon was shot down over the South Carolina coast last Saturday.

Retired U.S. Air Force General Richard Newton said this should serve as a wake-up call.

"It's a recent occurrence. China now has a fleet of spy balloons and it's been reported that they've flown over 40 countries and five continents so it's a growing capability that the Chinese are demonstrating here," he said.

Officials said Sunday's object that was shot down over Lake Huron was not a threat to anything on the ground but they are searching for answers.

"We need facts, that's what we need right now more than anything. Facts, data," Dingell said.