U.S. fighters dispatched Sunday to shoot down an unidentified object flying over Lake Huron missed their first shot, according to a top military official, as details slowly trickle out about three mysterious objects shot down over the past few days and the operations to take them down.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters at an international defense meeting in Brussels that the “first shot missed” after being fired from an F-16.
The first missile landed “harmlessly” in the waters of Lake Huron before a second shot downed the object, according to Milley.
The object then “slowly descended” into the water after being hit, a Pentagon official told CNN.
Defense officials have described the object as octagonal with strings dangling from it, and said it was shot down because its altitude—20,000 feet—posed a threat to civilian aircraft.
Milley repeatedly referred to the three objects shot down since Friday as “balloons” at a news conference Tuesday, before backtracking to call them “objects”—the classification the White House and Pentagon have used—when a reporter asked about the term.
$439,000. That’s how much one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile costs, according to Bloomberg, which the U.S. has used to shoot down the objects. The Raytheon Technologies Corp.-produced missiles are reportedly designed to shoot down objects in the short-range, relying on heat-seeking technology to hit targets.
American fighters on Friday shot down a “high-altitude” object traveling at 40,000 feet off the northern coast of Alaska before shooting down another 40,000-foot object Saturday over Canada’s Yukon territory in a joint operation with the Canadian military. Officials have said the recovery process is underway but the remote location of the Alaska and Yukon objects have hindered a swift effort, while the Lake Huron object plunged into the cold lake waters after being shot down. It remains unclear exactly what the objects are or who made them—the only explanation the White House has ruled out involves aliens, with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying Monday: “There is no indication of alien or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns.” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday the objects were unmanned and appeared to be guided by the wind.
All U.S. senators received a briefing about the objects Tuesday, but it appears little new information was shared. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told CNN senators learned “next to nothing” about the objects in the briefing.
The unidentified objects were shot down just days after fighters downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina, after it spent several days hovering across the country. The U.S. military’s Northern Command said in a recent statement it has recovered “all of the priority sensors and electronics pieces as well as large sections of the structure.”
Everything We Know About The Chinese Balloon—And 3 Other Objects— Shot Down By The U.S. (Forbes)
U.S. Shoots Down Object Over Alaska That Posed ‘Threat,’ Pentagon Says (Forbes)
Everything We Know About The Flying Object Shot Down Over Canada—A Day After Similar Incident Over Alaska (Forbes)
Aliens Weren’t Behind Balloon Incidents, White House Says (Forbes)
U.S. Military Shoots Down Another Flying Object—This Time Over Lake Huron (Forbes)
Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Hovering Over U.S., Pentagon Says (Forbes)
U.S. Recovers ‘Sensors And Electronics’ From China’s Balloon—Other Vessels Still A Mystery (Forbes)
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