Over Lake Huron, the U.S. downs a 3rd unidentified object in 3 days

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (NPR) — A unidentified object has been shot down by U.S. forces over Lake Huron, according to the Department of Defense. The object appears to be the same object that had been detected over Montana a day earlier, said officials.

The airborne object — flying about 20,000 feet above the lake waters — was shot down by an F-16 fighter jet with a missile on Sunday afternoon, at the direction of President Biden and based on the recommendations of military leadership, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.

The path and altitude of object — which flew close to sensitive DOD sites and could have posed a risk to commercial aircraft — sparked concerns, the press secretary said.

“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,” Ryder said.

On Saturday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said it detected a “radar anomaly” over Havre, Mont., after an aircraft investigation of radar hits failed to locate an object matching the hits.

But on Sunday, Ryder said, officials could “reasonably” link the object downed that afternoon to the radar signal picked up over Montana based on its flight path and data.

“Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more,” Ryder said in the statement.

Earlier in the day, politicians from Michigan said they were in contact with the Defense Department about the object.

“The American people deserve far more answers than we have,” Rep. Jack Bergman tweeted.

The downing follows a shootdown of a cylindrical object by the U.S. military in Canada’s Yukon territory on Saturday, and the downing of “a high altitude airborne object” off of the northern coast of Alaska on Friday. The U.S. also took down a Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast on Feb. 4.

Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told NPR’s All Things Considered on Sunday that he was “very confident” that none of the unidentified objects “represent a threat to the national security of the United States.”

“I’m confident that they are very unlikely to have the kinds of surveillance capabilities that the Chinese balloon that was shot down had,” Himes said. “And the reason I say that is that if they were a threat, if they were a military action, if they had dangerous capabilities, I’m quite certain I would have been briefed on that.”