Live updates: White House briefing on unidentified objects in US airspace


A US F-16 fighter jet shot down another airborne object over Lake Huron on Sunday afternoon at the direction of President Joe Biden, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the object was not assessed to be a military threat, but it was a flight hazard.

“We did not assess it to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground, but assess it was a safety flight hazard and a threat due to its potential surveillance capabilities. Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more,” Ryder said.

Melissa Dalton, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, echoed that sentiment Sunday night, telling reporters the objects were taken down out of an “abundance of caution.”

She added that high-altitude objects can be used by a range of companies, countries, and research organizations for “purposes that are not nefarious, including legitimate research.”

The operation marks the third day in a row that an unidentified object was shot down over North American airspace. An unidentified object was shot down over northern Canada on Saturday. On Friday, an unidentified object was shot down in Alaska airspace by a US F-22.

Ryder said the object shot down Sunday was the same one that radar detected on Saturday over Montana that caused airspace to briefly close in the evening.

The object was flying at 20,000 feet over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a senior administration official told CNN on Sunday. It was “octagonal” with strings hanging off and no discernible payload, according to the official and another source briefed on the matter.

The path of the object and its altitude raised concerns that it could pose a threat to civilian aircraft, but it did not pose a military threat to anyone on the ground, the official said.

Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan said Sunday that the operation to down the object over Lake Huron was carried out by pilots from the US Air Force and the National Guard.

CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn, Aaron Pellish and Jack Forrest contributed to this report.


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