It’s the latest in a string of such incidents.
ByLuis Martinez, Justin Fishel, Josh Margolin, Martha Raddatz, Molly Nagle, and Tal Axelrod
Another high-altitude object was shot down Sunday afternoon, this one over Lake Huron in Michigan, three U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News, marking the latest in a string of such incidents.
The object was shot down by a U.S. military aircraft, according to one of the officials.A senior administration official said President Joe Biden directed that the object be shot down “out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of military leaders.”
This official said the object shot down was detected on radar over Montana on Saturday and was seen again on radar over Wisconsin and Michigan on Sunday.
The object was octagonal in structure, unmanned and traveling at about 20,000 feet, the official said. There is no indication of surveillance capabilities, but the administration cannot rule that out.
A senior U.S. official said this object, like two others recently shot down, is not at all comparable to a suspected Chinese spy balloon that was first spotted in late January.”There is no sense they are anything but meteorological balloons or some sort of weather balloon, not spy balloons,” the official said. None appeared to have any payload; they are much smaller, and such vessels are known to go off course, according to the official.Each is different and difficult to exactly identify, this official said.
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“In light of the People’s Republic of China balloon that we took down last Saturday, we have been more closely scrutinizing our airspace at these altitudes, including enhancing our radar, which may at least partly explain the increase in objects that we’ve detected over the past week,” Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, said during a Pentagon press briefing Sunday night.Because they “have not been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are, the president wanted to act out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and our interests,” she continued. “We will remain vigilant.””The most recent objects do not pose a kinetic military threat, but their paths in proximity to sensitive DOD sites and the altitudes that they were flying could be a hazard to civilian aviation and thus raised concerns,” Dalton added.