In recent weeks, North American airspace has seen a sudden surge in unidentified flying objects. The latest incident occurred on Sunday over Lake Huron.
According to a senior administration official, the object was described as an octagonal structure with strings hanging off but with no discernible payload. The three previous objects, which were shot down by North American forces, were similar in size and shape.
However, these remain a mystery in comparison to the February 4th takedown of a Chinese surveillance balloon.
The Pentagon confirmed that an F-16 fighter fired an AIM9x missile at the latest object on Sunday afternoon at 2:42 pm, roughly 20,000 feet above ground.
President Joe Biden ordered the shootdown based on recommendations from military leaders after concerns about the object’s path and altitude posed risks to civil aviation. Although it was deemed not to be a military threat, it could have had surveillance capabilities.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been monitoring North American airspace and is now looking at a wider range of radar data, including more raw radar data and smaller objects that might have been filtered out in the past.
It remains unclear whether these objects have always been present or if they are newly emerging.
The shootdown location was chosen to minimize risks to people on the ground and to improve chances of recovering the debris. There were no indications of any harm to civilians. The U.S. military is working toward better understanding the situation by collecting data from object recoveries and analyzing technical radar data.